16 Jun 2012

Work by Caravaggio restored

6:35 am on 16 June 2012

The Resurrection of Lazarus by Caravaggio has been restored again.

Also known as The Raising of Lazarus, the painting was done by Caravaggio in Sicily in 1609, before the artist's death at the age of 38.

It was housed for centuries in the church of the Crociferi fathers in Messina before it was moved to a museum in the city.

It survived through the great Messina earthquake of 1908, which killed up to 200,000 people and destroyed thousands of buildings.

The painting depicts the story in the Gospel of St John in which Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.

Caravaggio was reputed to have had a freshly buried body exhumed in order to make the painting more realistic.

The restoration took seven months at the Higher Institute for Conservation & Restoration and the painting is on display in the Palazzo Braschi museum in Rome until 15 July. It will then return to Sicily.

The painting is on six pieces of canvas, five vertical and one horizontal, that were sewn together. It was commissioned by a merchant and measures 3.80 x 2.75 metres.

Restorer Anna Maria Marcone said the hardest part of the restoration was repairing some of the damage done by an earlier restoration in 1670, about 60 years after it was painted.

The restorer removed some of the paint while cleaning it.