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December 2008 - RESTORATION OF THE

December 2008

Thanks to the contributions of Marina and Susanna Sent to the “Veneziani x Venezia” – Venetians for Venice” project, conceived by Fondaco, the restoration on the first two statues of the central balcony of the quay-front façade of the Ducal Palace has been concluded. The group of sculptures, the work of Pierpaolo dalle Masegne, dates back to 1404 and includes a total of nine statues: Saints Mark, Peter, and Paul in the niches with crowning vaults, and allegorical figures in the lower ones and on the shelves: Justice, Strength, Temperance, Faith, Hope, and Charity. The restoration (which called for a series of global yet detailed interventions of cleaning, restoration, and consolidation) was carried out by the Venetian Lares and supervised by the relative Authority and the technical offices of the Venice Civic Museum Foundation. The ‘Opificio delle Pietre Dure’ in Florence and the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice also conducted in-depth preliminary analyses on the stonework.

“The interventions of the Venice and Lagoon Architectural and Landscape Authority,” explains Dr. Annalisas Bristot,” were strictly conservative. We have always been convinced that this type of intervention was necessary because it touches upon beautiful works that stand witness to a very important historical period of Venetian art. I am very pleased with the results we achieved thanks to the coordination between the restorers and the City of Venice." “Speaking on behalf of the Municipal Administration,” says Eng. Ivano Turlon, “we appreciate this newborn interest in restoring the 'little jewels' of Venice that are found throughout the city and Venetian businesses’ expression of esteem and recognition towards this extraordinary urban setting. The statues of the virtues represent an extraordinarily beautiful interpretation by the Dalle Masegne, artists who played a fundamental role in 15th-century sculpture, and are another tile in the mosaic that has been restored for the enjoyment of all. In addition to the efforts made by Marina and Susanna Sent, the project also enjoyed strong synergy among the various components involved (the municipal administration, the Venice Architectural Authority, the Museum Foundation, Businesses, and Restorers).” Given the significance of these works, it is highly unlikely that they will be returned to their original setting, where they are exposed to harmful climatic conditions. The Venice municipal administration and the Architectural Authority are therefore studying feasible alternatives inside the Doge’s Palace where can be exhibited for visitors' enjoyment. “It has truly been a wonderful experience on both a personal and professional level,” claim Marina and Susanna Sent. “We feel a deep need to make our own resources available in order to conserve and promote what we have inherited and what we must in turn pass on to our children and future generations to guarantee the continuity of these works of art in all their beauty. We feel as though there is a need to renew a civic sense of duty for our splendid city." “‘Veneziani x Venezia’ began with Marina and Susanna Sent,” says Enrico Bressan of Fondaco, the Venetian communications firm that launched the project in collaboration with the City of Venice,” and their commitment and the enthusiasm it sparked inspired other businesses to get involved and even others to express a strong interest.” “This is why we would like to thank these two business women from Murano,” continues Bressan, because they offered a concrete example of how the success of a project can be guaranteed. This year, 2008, was important because some local businesses gave positive signs of participation and intention to dedicate themselves to Venice.” “We must continue in this direction,” concluded Bressan, “The work of Fondaco consists in seeking out projects and stimuli to be transmitted to those who work in the city. I am absolutely convinced, if humbly and with my feet firmly on the ground, that we will succeed in contributing to the dawn of a new phase during which Venice can only benefit from this demonstration, as history has already confirmed, that ours is a city of the future." The next appointment is set for the summer of 2009 and the restoration of the statues of Temperance and Faith. Historical Notes In the book “La scultura veneziana gotica (1300-1460)” (Venetian Gothic Sculpture) Wolfgang Wolters collected all the historic information of the statues. Below is an excerpt from the book. “The works of Dalle Masegne (Pierpaolo and Jacobello) had considerable influence both in Venice and on the mainland, serving as models for many artists from the second decade of the 15th century on. One could be tempted to define the period between 1380 and 1410 as the “Dalle Masegne period”. “On July 22, 1400, shortly before the death of the Duke Antonio Venier, Pierpaolo signed the contract to decorate the balcony of the Grand Council Chamber of the Doge's Palace; four years after the work had been completed. This decoration served to manifest the "order of the Venetian State" (in that is precedes the Porta della Carta and the Foscari Arch of the Palace) and it may be presumed that the artistic project was preceded by a precise programme elaborated by a government official. At the centre of the decoration, Doge Michele Steno is portrayed flexis genibus (while the initial project almost certainly called for the still incumbent Doge Antonio Venier), in front of the Lion of St. Mark’s, symbol of the State, making clear the submission of the Doge to the State. Not in triumph - as in the arch for King Alfonso of Naples, for example - but rather that submission was the basic tenet of the programme. To the sides of the balcony we find the six Virtues mainly referring to the person of the Doge, and only subsequently to the Venetian State. In fact, we often find these figures on the tombs of the Doges, while they are rarely found in official representations where the Doge is not portrayed.


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