Light on the Giudizio

Written by  Jadranka Bentini

A "ferrarese" masterpiece restored to life.
The restoration of Bastianino's Giudizio universale, painted in the Cathedral chancel, deserves special mention among the restoration work which has been carried out on Ferrara's artistic heritage.

The renovation of this original work of the Ferrara School was undertaken by the Fondazione of the Cassa di Risparmio, which commissioned Ottorino Nonfarmale to strengthen and clean the work under the watchful eye of the conservation department.


The result throws a new light on the powerful human and divine drama imagined by the mature Filippi on Buonarroti's canvas.
The work in the Cathedral reveals Bastianino at the height of his powers as a dramatist of titanic spectres, skilfully composed in groups between heaven and earth, in an aerial whirlwind drawing up the damned, disinterred from the pit to which they are doomed.

The cleaning has at last brought out the light, a key element in understanding this masterpiece of late Mannerism, without which Filippi would still be regarded as a painter of small-scale works.

If a restoration should bring a work of art back to life (with difficulty, in the case of this unrecognised masterpiece), reviving its meaning and impact, the aim has certainly been achieved. At the same time, the whole work can now be appreciated anew in its pristine state. This allows scholars as well as art enthusiasts to appreciate this masterpiece as a whole, as well as through a constant scrutiny of every detail of technique and execution.