The restoration of the Caravaggio’s masterpiece stolen from Odessa

During last visit to Odessa, President Zelensky offered to ask Oleksandr Tkachenko, Ukrainian Minister of Culture, to speed up the completion of the restoration and the return of “The Taking of Christ” to Odessa, the only one painting of Caravaggio in Ukraine.

President Zelensky was asked by the cultural representatives of Odessa for resolving the issue of the return to Odessa of “The Taking of Christ” painting by the outstanding Italian artist of the XVII century Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.

In 2008, the painting, called also “The Kiss of Judas”, was stolen from the Odessa Museum of Western and Eastern Art, but the criminals were found later. Due to the ongoing trial, the painting has still the status of material evidence, which makes it impossible to move and exhibit in a museum.

The canvas is currently in responsible storage at the National Research and Restoration Center in Kyiv, where it has been under restoration for three years. Only recently, an examination by Italian experts on the conditions of the masterpiece was allowed, after the Restoration Center refused for years to let European specialists help the work on the painting.

For the first time, the Research National Restoration Center of Ukraine officially admitted to the canvas the leading Italian experts who have experience in the restoration of this artist’s works in Rome. We managed not only to bring Giulia Silvia Ghia to Kyiv, but also to ensure synergy with a team of Ukrainian restorers headed by Svetlana Strelnikova. The center and our museum have become the owners of unique Italian restoration procedures, in which, in addition to the base of photographs of layer-by-layer radiography, data of chemical studies of pigments, absolutely new data of reflexographic studies of paintings are included.

Yuri Maslov, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Odessa Museum of Western and Eastern Art

Ufortunately, Caravaggio’s artwork was damaged during the voyage from the place of finding in Germany to Kyiv, due to the inexperienced policemen responsible for the transport.

A separate question for those Ukrainian policemen who transported the painting from Berlin. Those “professionals” managed to fold the canvas several times, stuff it into a cellophane bag and crush it down into a suitcase. As a result, according to the restorers, it was the damage to the canvas caused by transportation that turned out to be the most significant and difficult to restore.

Yuri Maslov, Odessa Museum of Western and Eastern Art

The Odessa cultural authorities called on the Ukrainian President for the completion of the restoration of the painting by next year, when the world will celebrate the 450th anniversary of Caravaggio.

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