Gaetano Previati painted his Madonna dei gigli (Virgin with lilies) in 1893, initially with the title of Luce (Light), one of his favourite subjects and the main theme of this work. When he had already started the painting, he decided to increase the size by making the canvas larger.
What we see today is very different from Previati’s original intention since the whole painting is marked by craquelè1 covered by a final coat of paint2, probably applied during restoration in 1977. This final layer has yellowed with age making it difficult to see the painting which now seems wan and diaphanous, with an unnatural hue altering its appearance.

The problem is whether to take action or not regarding the final layer which has deteriorated to the extent that it has visibly affected the painting’s legibility. It seems to be necessary even though we are well aware that restoration would alter the stable equilibrium.

1 small cracks on the painted surface
2 a transparent layer to protect the pigment