Villanova Restores Historical Masterpiece

Villanova has a marvelous historical painting that has been hanging in Falvey Library since 1956. The painting, known as the “Truimph of David” dates back to the 17th century, and was painted by an Italian artist named Pietro da Cortona.

Pietro da Cortona was a very talented painter and architect that did remarkable work in his lifetime, such as a tapestry of Emperor Constantine’s story, which is showcased in the Philadelphia museum. The background of “Triumph of David” features “an American-born Italian princess and a papal palace” during World War II,  in which the Italian princess wanders to “the Main Line” when she is accompanied by a courageous “priest”.

The painting was brought to Villanova University by Princess Eugenia Ruspoli when the librarian Rev. Daniel P. Falvey, the founder of Friends of Villanova Library, was raising funds to have a new facility constructed. Princess Eugenia Ruspoli saw the university as worthy of the masterpiece, so she contributed other pieces as well.

“Triumph of David” is being restored by Kristin deGhetaldi a doctoral student that attends the University of Delaware. The painting has been through a lot, and has taken considerable damage. It was originally marred by water from the Battle of Nemi in Italy 1994, during which the painting was in a castle that was bombed. The artwork once had vibrant colors, but now it has huge dark marks in some places.

So far DeGhetaldi has repaired the “blue robe on a dancing woman”. The restoration process will take two years to complete, and the cost of it is $100,000. The value of the painting is unknown because the three previous restorations have only damaged it more.  The masterpiece is being revamped in Falvey Library, and admirers have the opportunity to see the process in person or view it online through the library’s blog. After “Triumph of David”  is finalized the room will become a student lounge with the painting placed in the atrium.


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