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February 2008

A few days ago, the fireplaces in the Sala del Collegio, the Venetian Republic’s Cabinet Room, and the Sala della Bussola, the Hall of Justice, again became resplendent in all their beauty. This restoration was also very much appreciated by visiting experts from the Historic Buildings Office of Milan.

The multicoloured marble fireplace in the Sala del Collegio, the Venetian Republic Cabinet Room, and the Istria stone fireplace in the Sala della Bussola, the Hall of Justice, are once more resplendent in all their beauty after the conservation work on these parts of the institutional halls of the Doges’ Palace entirely sustained by the Friuli company, Palazzetti S.p.A. “We are very pleased,” says Enrico Bressan, Chairman of Fondaco, the company that planned the project, “with the quality of the results achieved by the excellent Venetian restorers from Lares. The two wonderful institutional halls are still finer now, and the large numbers of tourists that pass through them can appreciate these two works of art in their slightest detail. “Let’s say,” Bressan goes on, “that the correct original dimension has been given to two unique types of fireplace that are part of the immense Venice art heritage, whose care more firmly than ever before lies in relations of synergy between private enterprise and public bodies. Our thanks, which I think interpret the feelings of Venetians, the institutions and the millions of visitors to the Doges’ Palace, go to the Palazetti family, who believed in this challenge and successfully took it up, combining it with the work that sees them playing their part in the sphere of Made in Italy products and as a leading international company. “We in Fondaco,” concludes Bressan, “are both very thrilled and satisfied. We have a strong belief in this precious city of Venice with its artistic and historical treasures. The concrete results we have achieved, which have even amazed the guides that are at home at the Palace, are the results of the energy and enthusiasm of our day-to-day work and that’s why we are proud of them. All this is a spur to do even better so that all the energy available is concentrated to ensure that this wealth is preserved. Our thanks also go to the institutions - the Council, the Civic Museums and the Historic Buildings Office - for their support, helpfulness and practical collaboration in bringing about this restoration.”

Historical notes

Sala del Collegio, the Cabinet Room of the Venetian Republic

The decoration of this hall was completed to a design by Andrea Palladio after the fire in 1574. Francesco Bella and Andrea da Faenza worked on the construction of the wooden facing of the walls, the tribunal at the back and the carved ceiling.The splendid canvases that are also to be found on ceiling, on the other hand, were commissioned from Veronese, who executed them between 1575 and 1578. The ceiling is one of the masterpieces of this painter, who celebrates the Good Government of the Republic, the Faith on which it rests and the Virtues that guide and strengthen it. The first rectangular compartment is a representation of the St Mark’s bell tower emerging from behind the figures of Mars and Neptune, lords of war and of the sea. In the centre is the triumph of Faith and in the rectangular compartment near the tribunal Venice with Justice and Peace.The Virtues of Government are in eight T- and L-shaped panels. The big canvas above the tribunal, also by Paolo Veronese, is an exaltation of the wonderful victory of the Christian fleet over the Turks at Lepanto in 1571.

Sala della Bussola, the Hall of Justice

The series of rooms devoted to the functions of Justice begins here. A statue of Justice surmounts the great wooden scales that give their name to the room, conceals the corner and leads into the rooms of the Three Heads of the Council of Ten and the Inquisitors (which can only be seen during visits to the Itinerari Segreti, the Secret Passages). The room we are in, therefore, was used as an antechamber for those summoned before these powerful magistrates; although it is only an antechamber, it was luxuriously fitted out. This appears contradictory, but the purpose of the magnificent decor was to emphasise the solemnity of the judicial and political ritual of the Venetian State, one of whose most effective and best-known mainstays was to be found in these rooms.The room was fitted out in the middle of the 16th century. This ceiling was also entrusted to Veronese, who finished its decoration in 1554 with works intending to exalt the Most Serene Republic’s good government. Unfortunately, in this room too the central canvas, St Mark Descending to Crown the Three Theological Virtues, is a copy, whose original is in the Louvre. The great fireplace between the windows was conceived by Jacopo Sansovino in 1553-1554.


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