The Italian Almanac

fresco by Tiepolo

Italian Art - October 13

Art restorers have uncovered a painting by Tiepolo that has been hidden for more than a century inside a Venice church. The fresco called Faith was discovered in the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena beneath a layer of plaster on a semicircular panel or lunette.

It was unearthed during on-going restoration work and experts are still busy removing the 'intonaco' concealing it. So far, they have revealed a figure representing Faith holding a cross and a chalice. The painting is believed to include two other figures.

The 18th century Venetian master Giovanni Battista Tiepolo was commissioned to paint the fresco towards the end of his life, shortly after the church was completed. He also painted another fresco, The Last Supper, beneath the lunette. Art experts said that at some point in the 19th century, The Last Supper was removed to make way for the church organ while Faith was inexplicably plastered over.

Art historian Roberta Battaglia identified the Tiepolo at first sight and subsequently pieced together what had happened by consulting the church's archives.