After 18 months of restoration, Filippo Lippi’s painting known as The Martelli Annunciation is back on display at the San Lorenzo Church.
The restoration was made possible by the nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Florence’s history Friends of Florence and by the work of Lucia Biondi (painting), Roberto Buda (wooden supports) and project manager Monica Bietti. That of The Martelli Annunciation is Friends of Florence’s first restoration in the San Lorenzo Church.
Recognizing the value in this piece’s restoration has been a process in itself. Back in 2012, restorer Biondi attempted to express the work’s urgent need for repair when Friends of Florence were offering a 20,000 euro grant towards new projects.
Unfortunately, the Martelli Annunciation was not selected for this generous grant, but Biondi stood firm for almost three years, communicating the poor, dangerous conditions of the piece.
The origin of the tempera painting, a series of three paneled scenes, is unknown due its lack of accompanying documentation and paperwork. However, considering the techniques applied and the painting’s content, scholars date the Filippo Lippi’s work between 1439 and 1440. The piece’s name, The Martelli Annunciation, pays tribute to the Martelli family, Florentine nobles who contributed to the basilica’s reconstruction, and the inspiration drawn from Donatello’s Cavalcanti Annunciation, scenes of a church festival.
A conference of Filippo Lippi experts is planned for next year, where the commissioner of The Martelli Annunciation will be discussed and debated at length.
The founder and president of Friends of Florence, Countess Simonetta Brandolini d’Adda, also plans to release a digital or print summary of the painting’s restoration. The Martelli Annunciation can be admired in the Martelli Chapel in the left transept of the Basilica of San Lorenzo in San Lorenzo square.