Restoration of the Frieze by Aristide Sartorio in the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament

Gianluigi Colalucci, Daniela Bartoletti

Abstract


In 1897, the architect Ernesto Basile was commissioned to design the new Chamber in the Italian Parliament. Basile visualised a long painted frieze crowning the Chamber. The assignment was given to the painter Aristide Sartorio who executed it between 1908 and 1911. The frieze is 105 meters long, 3.75 high, and consists of 50 panels painted on canvas. In 1998 the frieze was examined closely and several problems regarding its state of conservation became evident, such as the loss of elasticity of the canvas and the widespread tendency of the paint film to become detached. In order to study the problem and plan the restoration for the entire frieze, it was decided to do a pilot restoration on only one of the 50 panels. The restoration was carried out in an equipped environment inside the Parliament, during the period 2003- 2004. Based on the studies carried out over the two years, it was possible to plan the restoration of the entire frieze, which was completed in one year: from 2006 to 2007. The panels were taken to a Roman studio exclusively dedicated to this restoration. It was not possible to do the restoration in situ as it would have created a disturbance in the working of the Parliament. The panels painted by Sartorio with a particular technique based on oil and wax, were treated with BEVA 371, reactivated with heat using a flat, low pressure table, and with a heated curved low pressure table specially designed by us. Using the same system and cloth bands, the edges of the panels were reinforced and then placed on their original frames. Finally, the veil of greasy particulate matter that had deposited over a century was removed. The restoration, directed by the Architectural Superintendency of Rome, was preceded and accompanied by numerous scientific research studies on the colors, canvas, color medium, wood and microclimate of the frieze. An extensive detailed color photographic documentation recorded all the phases of the restoration.

Keywords


frieze; primer; frame; thermoplastic resin

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DOI: 10.6092/issn.1973-9494/10346

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