In June of 2011 th conservation project began by the restoration of the wooden choir of the Church of Santa Maria del Rosario. The restoration was followed by the Soprintendenza per i Beni Architettonici, per il Paesaggio, e il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico e Demoetnoantropologico di Venezia e Laguna, by the IVBC’s teachers and realized by the first and third year students.
The wooden choir under the restoration intervention is located on the right side of the main altar of the church and is inserted in the middle of a wall composed by several materials. For exemple, red marble slabs in the bottom, white ‘marmorino’ for the lateral walls and columns while the capitals and cornices were performed in Istrian stone.
Originally, the choir had to look very different from today, a small portion of the original beige paint, lacquer-finished was found, during the disassembly of the coat of arms placed on top of the arch of the choir’s niche.
A letter sent to the Austro-Hungarian Government, in the second half of the nineteenth century (1883) found in the parish archives, speaks about the bad conservation status of the work and the financial request for its restoration. The help was denied and is in this period was, presumably, laid the first repainting (light gray), which was followed by a second one (dark gray), in the first decade of the twentieth century. The repainting’s dating is not certain, but written pencil discovery, on the railing and panels around the organ, no evidence dates prior to 1911.
Today’s restoration aims to remove only the last repainting layer, without intending to return the artifact to the original. At least three reasons are:
1) we don’t know how much original matter is stored under the first repainting;
2) the repainting nineteenth century, had, of course, affected the original surface, already deteriorated (the reason for which it has been repainted);
3) the first repainting has been very tenacious, a tempera lithopone (white zinc sulfide and barium sulfate pigment, insoluble, that has a high covering power). His removal should be very difficult and might further damage the original layer below.
As first step, not just mounted the scaffolding, was necessary to detect the conservation status of the choir. This has allowed us to verify, accurately, the degradation areas which were photographed and mapped.
Before starting the restoration, it was necessary to carry out consolidation tests of the film flaking area. The lifting surface affected the paint film, while others, affected both the paint film and his preparation.
In the bottom part of the choir was present a particolar phenomenon of lifting of the paint film. The use of a non compatible material coated on the original one should have causes extremely fragile situation of the paint film which tends to raise.
To consolidate the paint film not adhering to the preparation or not adhering to the wooden support has been used an organic-based adhesive, the Klucel G. The first step was to apply it with a brush, so as to preliminarily fix the parts in the worse condition. Was carried out, following, by injection under flake.
Concerning the lower part of the choir, the artistic technique has been recognized as an imitation of the bushhammered in the adjacent stone. Significant losses of material and lifting appeared presenting film “craquelure” and “curly” edges. In this problematic area, the consolidations have been performed first with the technique already described above (Klucel G) with a second consolidate product coating. Unfortunately, the adhesive power of Klucel G did not gaving positive results, we decided to perform more consolidating tests. Proved to be the aliphatic resin Dap Weldwood at different concentrations in aqueous solution the most effective solution, injected under flaking. The application method same as the klucel G consolidation.
Simultaneously with the paint film fixing have been performed the treatment of the metal elements and fixing the decorative elements.
Once the consolidation phase concluded, the students had carried out the cleaning phase of the wooden choir. The cleaning aimed to thetwentieth century repainting removal (dark gray) and the putting into light of the underlying surface, characterized by a uniform clear gray tones.
Severals cleaning materials tested, we chose a chelating gel Ph 7 (neutral), then rinsed with a solvent mixture and cotton trunk.
Once has been disinfected the entire wooden artifact, the students filled the gaps and cracks with stucco (bologna gypsum and rabbit skin glue) and retouched them with watercolours and varnished colour.
Stone’s decoration and plasters
Were also restored the plasters and the stone material that surrounds the choir following the methodology used for the Restoration of the nave and its six chapels.