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Florence’s Answer to Mafia Violence: A Painting’s Loving Restoration

“It was in such condition that I knew I couldn’t bring it back to its original perfection,” Ms. Lippi said recently, as she applied the finishing touches to the painting in her Florentine laboratory, magnifying glasses on her eyes and a brush in hand.

For 10 months, mixing digital imagery, modern scanning technology, and old-school color recognition, she learned the painter’s most intimate touches by heart.

The 615 fragments amounted to a precious and delicate jigsaw puzzle.

Florence’s Answer to Mafia Violence: A Painting’s Loving Restoration
Florence’s Answer to Mafia Violence: A Painting’s Loving Restoration

Of them, 500 were cleaned, sewn together and then glued onto a new canvas, forming an imperfect portrait of men dressed in elaborate clothes playing zarro, a betting game popular in the 1500s. The other pieces — too small or damaged to be used — will be preserved.

“The missing pieces are important, to show what happened to it,” Ms. Lippi said, referring to the new sand-colored stucco that she has treated to look like a 17th-century canvas. “This painting is the living memory of the attack 25 years ago.”

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