Modern technology used to help restore "Madonna of the Goldfinch"

"X-rays, CAT scans, reflective infra-red photography, lasers, men and women in white coats, microscopes, latex gloves" all played a part in the restoration of Raphael's masterpiece "Madonna of the Goldfinch," a 10-year project with stunning results. (photo)

Having survived the collapse of a house and restoration mistakes, the painting was in dire need of intervention, but experts were cautious. "This patient gave us the most shivers and the most sleepless nights," said Marco Ciatti, head of the department of paintings at Florence's Opificio Delle Pietre Dure, one of Italy's most prestigious state-run art restoration labs. "We spent two whole years studying it before deciding whether to go ahead because with the damage it suffered in the past -- which was clearly visible in the x-rays -- a restoration attempt could go wrong," he said.