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Detail of ceiling coffer
Detail of ceiling coffer
Detail
Detail of ceiling coffer

Recorded restoration work

Eighteenth century
Documents written in 1789-1790 include the Chamber of the Victories among the rooms still awaiting restoration. In around 1790, decorator Carlo Isacci submitted an estimate to “restore the coffered ceiling, which is lacking in decoration, figures, stuccoes and gilding, and accompany this with painting the panels on the walls, which need to be scraped and re-plastered”.

Nineteenth century
During the first decade of the century, like others in the south wing of the villa, the ceiling was in a precarious state of conservation. Its restoration was therefore taken into consideration for a “decent entertainment of sovereigns”.

Twentieth century
Dante Berzuini worked on the wooden ceiling in 1922, restoring the painting on the coffers and in some cases entirely reworking it, to the detriment of Giulio Romano’s original decoration (see for example, Woman with a vase of flowers prior to Morari’s restoration). The restorer also extensively painted panels and mouldings. By 1925 Berzuini had completely plastered and painted the walls after protecting them from damp by “spreading them with a special preparation”.

Restoration 2000

Restoration of the wooden ceiling was carried out by Augusto Morari.

Conditions prior to restoration

The ceiling was characterized by generalized blackening; the mouldings were covered in layers of dark walnut oil paint and numerous pictorial panels had been retouched or repainted, often quite arbitrarily.

Work carried out

Prior to cleaning the coffers using a poultice, the paint layer was consolidated and the gilded parts put back together with hot organic adhesive. Restoration revealed the original light ochre colour of the mouldings but, above all, parts of Giulio Romano’s decoration previously hidden by the early Twentieth century repainting: for example the panel with Woman with a vase of flowers, in which the arm was in a different position from the original and the vase was filled with recently painted red flowers.

Restoration 2001-2002

Restoration of the stucco and fresco frieze was carried out by Maria Chiara Ceriotti (Consorzio Arké) and Alberto Fontanini (Marchetti & Fontanini).

Conditions prior to restoration

There was widespread loss of the decoration and the stucco cornice situated between the frieze and walls; the frescoes had been considerably retouched and stopped in the past.

Work carried out

Both frescoed parts and stucco decoration were stabilized; all the plaster stopping on the stucco was destroyed, while any repainting or retouching that had deteriorated or bled in the frescoes was removed or lightened. The parts were then cleaned, the losses stopped up and, finally, paint was added to the frescoes and stuccoes.

Further reading:

  • P. ARTONI, G. MAROCCHI, I recuperati ambienti di Palazzo Te in Mantova. Tracce per una storia dei restauri, in “Storia e cultura del restauro in Lombardia. Esiti di un biennio di lavoro in archivi storici”, Associazione Giovanni Secco Suardo, Lurano, Il Prato editore, 2009, pp. 141-187.

With the support of:

logo seccosuardo1fondazione cariplo