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Photos: ‘Preventive conservation’ in Venetian palace

Art restorers in Venice are carrying out an ambitious monitoring project to analyze and intervene early on precious works of art and elaborate ornamentation in an iconic Venetian palace that was at the heart 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 last 14 months as restorers examine every inch of the surfaces of the palace, known as the Doge’s Palace, which contains some of the most magnificent in the world , 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 in small portions at a time and leave the space open to visitors, restorers climb up and down a series of stairs to the roof each day where their tools include soft brushes and syringes.

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In the Grand Council Chamber, one of the largest paintings in the world, Tintoretto’s “Il Paradiso” at roughly 150 square meters (1,600 square feet), restorer Alberto Marcon is mapping the surface inch by inch, noting the deteriorated parts that will require intervention or restoration.

The information will then go into a database that will help the team decide not only where they need to intervene with small operations or where a larger conservation effort is required, but also to monitor the state of conservation of the artwork throughout the year. weather.

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

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The project’s director, architect Arianna Abbate, explains that an effort that makes art monitoring a top priority, given considerable time and funding, 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.”

Abbate says his main 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 immediate intervention is necessary, so the team has set up a temporary studio in the Doge’s private chapel where restorers can work on the individual paintings.

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Once all the work is complete, other groups, such as the American non-profit organization Save Venice, will step in to help fund any additional restoration deemed necessary.

The humidity and salty water of Venice, a 1,600-year-old city built on a lagoon with its ancient palaces connected by canals, is especially harsh on architecture and works of art. The Doge’s Palace is located on the edge of Saint Mark’s Square facing the lagoon with a canal running along the side.

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