From the second half of June, a transparent box installed inside the Grande Museo del Duomo will enable visitors to observe as restoration work is carried out on the statue of Mary Magdalene transported by the angels by Angelo Marini, known as «il Siciliano». Camilla Mancini will be responsible for the work, which has been approved by the relevant authority.
The sculpture, which dates back to the second half of the 16th century, was mentioned by Vasari in Le vite de' più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architettori italiani, da Cimabue insino a' tempi nostri.
He described it as an «opera bellissima» and underlined its importance in the context of mid-16th century sculpture. Il Siciliano, who arrived in Milan with the entourage of Ferrante Gonzaga, worked for the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo from August 1548 until 1550. Documents in the Fabbrica archives demonstrate that he was also a stable presence in the Cathedral construction site from 1560 on.
He introduced a new artistic language to the cathedral’s large construction site, and La Maddalena is one of his most important works. There is another very similar version outside the Charterhouse of Pavia, where he is also known to have worked.
The statue was originally positioned outside the Duomo, on the north side. After the air raids of August 1943 it was moved to the Veneranda Fabbrica storerooms for safekeeping, until finally being transferred to the Cathedral Museum in 1953.
Marini’s sculpture bears the marks of time, but that is not all. Environmental factors, atmospheric agents and pollution have seriously damaged it, causing a black crust to form on the parts not exposed to rainwater. Now, thanks to the restoration work, the sculpture will recover its original splendour, and visitors to the Museum will be able to witness this rebirth.