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Virgin with Child and Adoring Angles statues on Florence's Duomo seen in color for the first time

Restorations began in September 2021 and focused on the north side as this area is heavily degraded by erosion from rainwater runoff, surface dirt deposits, black sulphurous encrustations and bird droppings

Florence’s Duomo is still revealing new secrets – restorations have revealed once-hidden traces of color on the marble sculptures of the Madonna and Child and the Adoring Angles.

While clearing 10,000 square feet of marble, teams discovered the brown iris in Mary’s left eye, the bluish green and red of her coat, and the rich brocade pattern, designed to mimic woven fabric, on the dress worn by the Christ Child.

Museum directors have long believed that the statues were created in natural white marble to match the white, pink and green marble exterior of the Duomo, experts never thought there would be such coloring.

The restoration, which cleaned 10,000 square feet of the cathedral, determined that a coat of brown oxalate had been applied to the marble to protect the structure, but that also masked the colors.

The spectacular find suggests that other sculptural groups positioned around the church may also feature colors that have yet to be revealed.

Restorations began in September 2021 and focused on the north side as this area is heavily degraded by erosion from rainwater runoff, surface dirt deposits, black sulphurous encrustations and bird droppings

Restorations began in September 2021 and focused on the north side as this area is heavily degraded by erosion from rainwater runoff, surface dirt deposits, black sulphurous encrustations and bird droppings

Restorations began in September 2021 and focused on the north side as this area is heavily degraded by erosion from rainwater runoff, surface dirt deposits, black sulphurous encrustations and bird droppings .

The Duomo, also called Florence Cathedral or Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, was the largest church in the world when it was consecrated in 1436 – it has a capacity of 30,000 people.

Construction began in 1293, but was not completed for more than 140 years due to the departure, death and expansion of the dome construction, which required more time.

The dome, however, is an iconic feature of the Duomo, featuring two layers: an inner shell stretching the diameter and a parallel outer shell to protect it from the weather.

About 24 stone half-archs support the two shells, or ribs, which taper and meet at an open-topped stone compression ring.

The Duomo of Florence, also known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, is located in Duomo Square.  About 4.5 million people visit the cathedral

The Duomo of Florence, also known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, is located in Duomo Square. About 4.5 million people visit the cathedral

In the 1950s a layer of brown oxalate was applied to the marble to protect the structure, but this also covered the colors

In the 1950s a layer of brown oxalate was applied to the marble to protect the structure, but this also covered the colors

The restoration cleaned up the statues, revealing their intricate details covered in bird droppings.  Teams found the bluish green and red of Mary's coat and the rich brocade pattern, designed to mimic woven fabric, on the robe worn by the Christ Child

The restoration cleaned up the statues, revealing their intricate details covered in bird droppings. Teams found the bluish green and red of Mary’s coat and the rich brocade pattern, designed to mimic woven fabric, on the robe worn by the Christ Child

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Only eight ribs are visible on the exterior, giving the dome an octagonal shape reminiscent of the nearby 11th-century Baptistery of San Giovanni.

The Madonna and Child with adoring angels are featured directly above the grand entrance door, and the imagery has been part of Florence’s history for centuries.

Indeed, Fra Filippo Lippi, who lived in Florence during the 1400s, was considered the so-called patron of the Madonna and Child with Two Angels.

He was a monk and painter who created several works of art using what can be seen hanging above the doors of the Duomo.

Duomo museum director Timothy Verdon told ANSA: “It reminds us that Florence in the late 14th century and early 15th century was a very colorful city.

“The cathedral also had statues painted with gilding on the angels’ wings and on the vestments – so a celebration.”

“A party that we have forgotten and that we are beginning to rediscover.

The Bishop of Florence, Giuseppe Betori, said: “It may seem strange that such importance should be given to the door of a church. But in reality.

This is because Fra Filippo Lippi, who lived in Florence during the 1400s, was considered the so-called patron of the Madonna and Child with Two Angels.

This is because Fra Filippo Lippi, who lived in Florence during the 1400s, was considered the so-called patron of the Madonna and Child with Two Angels.

The spectacular find suggests that other sculptural groups positioned around the church may also feature colors that have yet to be revealed.

The spectacular find suggests that other sculptural groups positioned around the church may also feature colors that have yet to be revealed.

The dome is an iconic feature of the Duomo, consisting of two layers: an inner shell stretching the diameter and a parallel outer shell to protect it from the weather.

The dome is an iconic feature of the Duomo, consisting of two layers: an inner shell stretching the diameter and a parallel outer shell to protect it from the weather.

“The door of a church is very important because it is the link between what is celebrated inside the building and the normal life of people.”

From 2017 to the present, the museum has invested more than 1.5 million in Duomo restoration projects.

The entire structure measures 524 feet in length and 141 feet in width. The design comprises over four million bricks and weighs over 40,000 tons.

And around 4.5 million people flock to see its beauty every year.

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