Whereas he admitted to a sense of tension within the late Eighties, when the critics had been at their most vociferous — Italy’s Communist newspaper known as him a “restoration murderer,” whereas one exasperated artwork historian countered by evaluating the critics’ claims to “the wild cries of some ferocious mutant Hen Little” — he remained a serene and regular presence, a soft-spoken, well mannered man clad in tweeds and deck footwear. He favored to sketch his colleagues, and the laboratory the place they labored.
“I really feel like a soccer participant earlier than a championship recreation today,” Mr. Colalucci informed The Occasions in 1987. “I want I might go on a retreat and be totally lower off from the world in order that I might think about what I’ve to do and never these different issues. This all creates a sort of stress which doesn’t allow you to work with tranquillity.”
And he had the approval of his boss, as he informed an Italian newspaper in 1988. Although Pope John Paul II had not been up on the scaffolding, Mr. Colalucci stated, he gave the impression to be pleased with the restoration. If not, he added, “he would have stopped the work, or just fired me.”
Gianluigi Colalucci was born on Dec. 24, 1929, in Rome. He grew up there, and as a baby performed on the steps of the Piazza del Campidoglio, which was designed by Michelangelo.
He studied on the prestigious Istituto Centrale per il Restauro in Rome, graduating in 1949. He joined the Vatican in 1960, turning into chief restorer in 1979. He retired within the mid Nineteen Nineties, however continued to advise on the Vatican Museums’ ongoing restorations.
In an announcement, Barbara Jatta, director of the Vatican Museums, famous his grace below strain, “by no means shaken by media controversy,” as he “helped to rewrite a web page of artwork historical past, and the historical past of restoration.”
Mr. Colalucci had two sons, and his survivors embody his spouse, Daniela, who can also be a conservator.
“There comes a day for every of us when nothing will ever be the identical once more,” Mr. Colalucci wrote in an undated article for Nationwide Geographic Traveler. “For me that day was April 8, 1994, when Pope John Paul II celebrated a Mass within the Sistine Chapel,” when the well-known frescoes, he stated, turned transfigured by the ceremony.
“I felt like I had been struck by a bolt of lightning, and immediately understood two vital issues: the transcendent spirituality of Michelangelo’s work and the true which means of working contained in the Vatican.”