Theater & Cinema

The Innocents of Florence. A New Documentary by Davide Battistella

Kate Wojtczak 17 May 2019 min Read

A 600-year-old painting leads two art conservators in Florence on a journey that sheds light on the story of the hundreds of thousands of children who were abandoned, and the women who saved them. The Innocents of Florencethe new documentary by Italian Canadian filmmaker Davide Battistella, has its premiere today in Florence.

The Innocents of Florence
Madonna of the Innocents, 1446, Istituto degli Innocenti, Florence, Italy

A Restored Painting with a Story to Tell

Modern-day Florence attracts more conservators than artists. Since the Arno’s tragic flooding in 1966 – when Florentine women first began wearing trousers in public – it has steadily grown to be a women-dominated profession. The Innocents of Florence follows two conservators, Nicoletta Fontani and Elizabeth Wicks, as they set out to salvage the mysterious painting Madonna of the Innocents, a restoration sponsored by Dr. Jane Fortune, known in Florence as ‘Indiana Jane’ for her work as founder of the organization Advancing Women Artists. The restoration of the painting, created as the banner for the Innocenti Institute in 1446, triggered numerous discoveries. It became the catalyst for this 90-minute feature-length documentary that explores art, motherhood, Florentine humanism and how a progressive-thinking Renaissance society created one of the first Children’s hospitals in the world.

AVA Foundation conservators at work. Photo by Davide Battistella

The conservation of Madonna of the Innocents was commissioned after Jane Fortune and Elizabeth Wicks became curious about the young Madonna figure depicted in the work at Florence’s Museum of the Innocents. They were particularly intrigued by her facial expression. It seemed she was hiding a secret. The ‘hunch’ these women had that day in the museum led to what turned out to be the “greatest discovery of my career,” says Wicks, who, with fellow conservator Nicoletta Fontani, spent close to 30 months preparing the work for display in the Innocenti, which boasts one of the rarest collections of children’s history in the world.

Cinema Premiere in Florence will take place on May 17, 2019 at Cinema La Compagnia, followed by 6 days of further screenings.

Recommended

The Serpent Queen/Starz. Theater & Cinema

The Serpent Queen: Renaissance Tapestries in Starz’s Period Drama

Starz’s new show, The Serpent Queen, tells the story of Catherine de Medici’s life and reign in 16th-century France. In the first season,...

Anna Ingram 24 November 2022

Theater & Cinema

Art in Movies: Modigliani in the Movie Made of Honor

This article goes out to every art lover who is also crazy about movies. In a more specific dedication, to rom-com lovers everywhere! Picture this:...

Vithória Konzen Dill 16 September 2022

Art reference from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Theater & Cinema

All the Art in Harry Potter Films

The Harry Potter franchise is known for its magical narrative and captivating characters… but its films also have subtle nods to art...

Anna Ingram 22 September 2022

Nick Briggs, Becoming Elizabeth image Theater & Cinema

Becoming Elizabeth: Tapestries in Starz’s New Period Drama

In Starz’s new period drama, Becoming Elizabeth, the series follows the young Elizabeth Tudor and her rise to the British throne during the...

Anna Ingram 21 July 2022