Restorers may have found Giotto initials in Assisi

Thu Dec 6, 2012 1:38pm EST
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By Philip Pullella

ROME (Reuters) - Restorers believe they may have found the initials of Giotto in a fresco attributed to the early Renaissance master in the lower basilica of St Francis in Assisi.

The discovery, unveiled on Thursday, was made in the Chapel of St. Nicholas, one of the last parts of the basilica-convent complex to be restored since it was damaged in by an earthquake in 1997.

"This is clearly a type of signature. These are clearly initials and not a decoration," said Sergio Fusetti, who restored the chapel, which is near the tomb of St Francis.

"It was not added on later but was done at the same time as the fresco, when the plaster was wet," he said by telephone.

The initials were discovered in a triptych showing St. Nicholas, the Madonna and child and St. Francis.

In a triangular area dividing the second and third part of the triptych, restorers found what clearly resembles the letter B and under it, what may be the letter G.

Giotto's full name was Giotto di Bondone. Italians often use their surname before their given name, hence Giotto, who died in 1337, could have used the initials BG.

The second letter, the presumed G, is below the first and is much harder to see because that part of the triangle is damaged.   Continued...

A close-up showing the section where the initials B (top) and G (bottom) were found in a part of a triptych, indicating his surname, Giotto di Bondone, in the lower basilica of St Francis in Assisi, in this handout picture dated June 22, 2012. REUTERS/Handout