Monday, June 5, 2023

Photos: ‘Preventive Conservation’ in a Venetian palace

Art restorers in Venice are conducting an ambitious surveillance project to analyze and manipulate precious artifacts and elaborate ornamentation in a historic Venetian palace that was at the center of political life in the powerful Maritime Republic of Venice.

The project at the Doge’s Palace, run by Venice’s Fondazione Musei Civici, began in June and will run for 14 months as restorers examine every centimeter of the palace’s surfaces – known as the Palazzo Ducale – which houses some of the world’s most spectacular There are artworks, including paintings by Tintoretto and Titian.

The Italian government has provided 500,000 euros ($530,000) in funding for the project.

Using mobile scaffolding so they can work on small portions at a time and leave the space open for visitors, restorers climb a series of ladders to the roof each day where their tools include soft brushes and syringes.

In the Chamber of the Great Council, one of the world’s largest paintings, Tintoretto’s “Il Paradiso” at about 150 square meters (1,600 sq ft), restorer Alberto Marcone is mapping the surface centimeter by centimeter, the decayed parts taking into account the intervention or restoration will be required.

The information will subsequently go into a database that will help the team not only decide whether they need to intervene with smaller works or where a larger conservation effort is needed, but also to monitor the conservation status of the artwork over time also.

On the other side of the room, another restorer works on an elaborate frieze around the ceiling, dusting off the paintings, looking for paint and decay. In the nearby Hall of Ten, a restorer is carefully injecting glue into a gold-painted wooden ornament to prevent it from rotting.

The project’s director, architect Arianna Abate, explains an effort that makes arts monitoring a top priority, giving it considerable time and money, is almost unheard of. Such “preventive conservation” could be “the new frontier of conservation,” she says as she stands on the scaffolding next to “Il Paradiso.”

Abate says his primary work is visual and tactile, but also includes monitoring with magneto-material, endoscopic, photographic and multispectral techniques.

In some cases, the decay is so severe that they require immediate intervention, so the team has set up a temporary studio in the Doge’s private chapel where restorers can work on individual paintings.

Once all work has been completed, other groups, such as the US non-profit organization Save Venice, will step in to help advance any restoration deemed necessary.

The humidity and salt water are particularly hard on architecture and artworks in Venice, a 1,600-year-old city built on a lagoon with its ancient palaces connected by canals. The Doge’s Palace is located on the edge of St Mark’s Square facing the lagoon, with a canal running down its banks.

Times of National
Times of National
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