Restorations financed by the International Private Committee shed new light on works by Antonio Vivarini and Lorenzo Lotto

Annual General Meeting, Friday 15th October 2010, 9.30 - 13.00

Palazzo Zorzi (Castello 4930)

The International Private Committees, many of whose innumerable volunteers have been working in eleven countries for four decades and more, continue to devote substantial funds to the cultural and physical safeguarding of Venice in the framework of a Joint Programme with UNESCO and in partnership with the Superintendencies and other institutions of the city. The projects financed range from the restoration of entire buildings to that of monuments and paintings, from historical and artistic research to the cataloguing of archives and libraries and to the granting of study bursaries to conservation specialists. In September 2010, the Association signed a collaboration agreement with the City of Venice; if any of the 25 Private Committees finances a project to restore municipal property the City will make its technical experts available to make the most of this public-private cooperation..

This year the Association welcomes a new member: the recently constituted Japanese Committee Venezia aVvenire, which intends to concentrate its efforts on the collections of the Museum of Oriental Art at Ca’ Pesaro, including the promotion of contacts with restorers who are expert in the techniques used in the Far East.

The last year has seen the completion of the restoration of the extremely fine parchment covers of 23 administration ledgers conserved at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. This restoration, financed by the Friends of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, concerns precious documents dating from the period of the Guardian de Matin C. Marcorà.

Once again the Italian Committee confirmed its commitment to funding the post of a highly qualified scientific assistant at the Multi-disciplinary Laboratory at the Misericordia.

The Pro Venezia Foundation of Switzerland completed its project to restore the monumental main entrance into the Church of the Carmini in Venice, designed and built around the beginning of the XVII century by the sculptor Sebastiano Mariani from the Swiss canton of Ticino. The project provided the opportunity for the Foundation to organize an extremely fruitful contact between the Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana (SUPSI) and the Istituto Veneto per i Beni Culturali (IVBC), which enabled the students and instructors of the degree courses in Switzerland and Venice to benefit, amongst other things, from three months of intensive supervised restoration work on the portal. Inside the same Church the Foundation also financed the restoration of the tomb of Giuseppe Sardi (1624-1699), an architect from Ticino who was particularly active in Venice and whose works in the city include the façade of the Church of Santa Maria del Giglio and the Monument to Alvise Mocenigo, both of which have been restored with funds provided by the Swiss Pro Venezia Foundation.

The many projects financed by Save Venice Inc. this year included the restoration of two paintings by Tintoretto at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco; continuation of the long-established project, using funds donated by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, to create a computerized catalogue of historic parish and other archives conserved at the Archivio Patriarcale; continuation also of the cataloguing of the collection of caricatures by Anton Maria Zanetti at the Cini Foundation, in this case via a bursary instituted in memory of the late art historian W.R. Rearick; yet another digital cataloguing project focuses on the Superintendency’s archive of graphic and photographic material concerning the Church of San Sebastiano and the paintings of Veronese; research relating to the ongoing restoration of San Sebastiano will also be extended to the State Archives with the intention of assembling all the material relating to XX century restorations in the church. Other work in progress includes the desalination of the Istrian stone parts of the Altar of San Nicola by soaking them in tanks of deionized water and the restoration of 16 illustrated manuscripts by Grevembroch owned by the Correr Museum. During the summer the work to remove grafitti from the Pilastri Acritani in the Piazzetta was completed, as was the monitoring of the state of conservation of the façade of the Scuola Grande di San Marco, restored with Save Venice funds a few years ago. And finally, the restoration of a small panel painting from the reserve collection of the Correr Museum depicting God the Father and until now attributed to Agostino da Lodi, has revealed what in fact is a very fine work by Lorenzo Lotto. Planned for next year are in-depth maintenance work on Titian’s Assunta in the Frari and the restoration of another of the paintings by Tintoretto at the Scuola Grande di San Marco.

The Dutch Committee Stichting Nederlands Venetie Comité is undertaking the restoration of the back of the Polyptych of the Virgin in the Chapel of San Tarasio in the Church of San Zaccaria, which itself was restored with funds provided by the Dutch committee several years ago. The back comprises a large wooden cupboard painted with figures of saints and surmounted by a Pietà which the restoration has revealed to be entirely the work of Antonio Vivarini.

The Superintendency concluded the preparatory phase of the Venice in Peril-financed project for the restoration of the huge Armstrong-Mitchell hydraulic crane in the Arsenale, which involved contributions from a number of leading Italian and British professionals and academic institutions. Ongoing preparatory investigations of the structure and micro-environment of the tomb Antonio Canova in the Basilica of the Frari are beginning to show results that offer some hope of saving the seriously threatened monument which was originally designed to commemorate Titian and was later used, in a slightly modified form, as a funerary monument to Maria Cristina of Austria in Vienna. On the death of Canova, a number of his pupils used the project again, each sculpting one of the figures mourning his death at the foot of a great pyramidal structure against the left wall of the Basilica. The exploratory analyses were financed with a contribution from “The Leading Travel Companies Conservation Foundation”. The British Committee also funded a second contribution to the Archeoclub d’Italia to enable them to continue conservation work on the important XVI century buildings they occupy on the Island of Lazzaretto Nuovo. And continuing the important scientific work coordinated by the University of Cambridge, which ViP has financed over the last few years, a meeting of international experts was held at the UNESCO headquarters in Venice in May to study How the health of the lagoon has implications for the city’s heritage. A publication and follow-up meeting are scheduled for December 2010.

Venetian Heritage Inc., with a generous contribution from Louis Vuitton, financed the restoration of the Gothic gilded silver altarpiece in the Church of San Salvador, exposed to public view just three times a year, at Christmas, Easter and the Feast of the Transfiguration on 6th August. The altarpiece is currently being exhibited at the Bode Museum in Berlin and will return to the high altar in San Salvador in Spring 2011. Venetian Heritage’s commitment to this church will continue with the restoration of the meeting room and ante-room of the Chapter, together with 80 precious reliquaries, while work on the fine crucifix above the rood screen in the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta on Torcello has already started and the restoration of the presbytery of the Church of San Simeon Piccolo and of a XVII century wooden crucifix in the same church is about to begin.

On Friday 15th October at 9.30 am Palazzo Zorzi (Castello 4930) will provide the setting for the traditional meeting between the International Private Committees and the civil and religious authorities, the institutions and citizens of Venice. Amongst those who have confirmed their presence is H.E. the Cardinal Patriarch Angelo Scola, and the Mayor of Venice Giorgio Orsoni.

In the afternoon there will be an event focussed on the Arsenale and organized by the Venice in Peril Fund. A presentation of the biography of William Armstrong, who designed the now unique Armstrong-Mitchell hydraulic crane in the Arsenale will be followed by an illustration of the Superintendency’s restoration project, financed by ViP, and this in turn will be followed by an assessment of the current situation vis-à-vis the future of the Arsenale.