British art restorer uncovers a lost Giotto masterpiece

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The Ognissanti Crucifix was a neglected Italian treasure which a team of experts have now repaired and identified.

For a young art conservator with a love of Italian painting there could be no bigger thrill than the chance to work on a genuine Florentine masterpiece. But to be allowed to spend every day for more than five years repairing one of Italy's greatest neglected cultural treasures is the opportunity of a lifetime.

Anna-Marie Hilling, 33, from Cumbria, has not only fulfilled this dream by becoming one of the handful of restorers trusted to handle the repair of a wooden cross painted in the 1300s; she has now also helped to prove to the world that the cross, the Ognissanti Crucifix, is the work of the early Italian master Giotto.

Early next month the fully restored, five-metre-high cross will leave the laboratory in Florence, where Hilling and her team have laboured for so long, to take up its rightful position in the city's Ognissanti church. And the day before it goes on public display an international press conference will reintroduce a work of art that, until last year, was assumed to be the work of one of Giotto di Bondone's relatives or pupils....

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