Patrons of California have adopted and are prepared to unveil “The Room of Addresses” or “The Room of Tributes”, so named because, in the 19th century, it had been the place of receiving addresses to the Holy See from all over the world (it’s not the place the Pope keeps his rolodex). Then, from the pontificate of Pope Pius XI (1922-1939) onward, the hall became a place of glorious display for a valuable collection of ivories, enamels, metal works and other artistic pieces from the same countries from which so many appeals of peace and joy had been received.
It was clear that the cabinets used to showcase these works, originally acquired over 200 years ago and meant for the library of Cardinal Zelada, were woefully inadequate for the needs of this collection. They were not designed for this purpose and therefore did not have the climate control or ease of viewership that is generally required for modern museum exhibition.
Over the past two years an extensive restoration project of these displays has been underway thanks to the generous donations of patron Joseph Incaudo, in loving memory of his wife Beatrice Maddalena (1946-2009). Thanks to his support, the treasures housed in this hall now have a more modern home, befitting their beauty and importance.
The restoration of the Room of Addresses demonstrates the ways in which patrons who devote their support to structural elements of the Vatican Museums can make a significant contribution to the overall experience of millions of visitors over the years to come. For our 2016 Wishbook, many of our donation opportunities represent these kind of large-scale improvements to the museums that assist in access or education. Keep an eye out for projects such as these in the coming months and years. They will maintain an important legacy for those who have the chance to patronize them.
On June 25, these crucial restorations were ready to be unveiled. His Eminence Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello (President of the Governorate of City Vatican), Antonio Paolucci (Director of the Vatican Museums), Benedetta Montevecchi (Historian) and Guido Cornini (Curator of the Department of Decorative Arts of the Vatican Museums), and our own Sara Savoldello, Romina Cometti and Camille Reyes were on hand to officially inaugurate the new displays.
The cases also facilitate a restructuring of the collection into an improved experience for viewers which allows for focused curation and a more intuitive organizational pattern for the pieces following chronological and geographical nodes. As part of the event on the 25th, organizers also showcased restorations on the Barocchi Crucifixes, thanks to Michigan Patrons, as well as upcoming restoration on St. Pantaleo sponsored by the Perry Family of Ohio.
The room of the Tributes is located at the southern end of the Gallery of the “Ancient Library in the Vatican Museums.” The name “Sala degli Indirizzi” was given to this room during the pontificate of Pio XI (1922-1939), who decided to display the tributes of homage sent to Pope Leo XIII and Saint Pio X by the faithful dioceses throughout the world.
The decoration of the vault, the lunettes and the frieze were all completed by Andrea Giorgini and Filippo Agricola in 1818 during the Pontificate of Pope Pius VII. All the artwork was in very poor condition for a long period of time.
Before the restoration commenced, the painted surfaces exhibited a considerable concentration of debris and scaling of the pigments with eminent loss of colours and cracks on the pictorial surface, especially on the blue background. The surface of the ceiling and lunettes still bears fissures in the wooden material and stucco frames. The lunettes with the prophets display several previous touch-ups done through the centuries.
The restorers Marco Pratelli and Bruno Mattei along with Maestro Maurizio De Luca, Head of the Restoration Labs, and Professor Ulderico Santamaria, Head of the Scientific Laboratory, did several tests to determine which restoration process would be most suitable. After a time of trail, they developed a special process to clean these works given that they have special characteristics – tempera a secco (on the plaster ceiling) as well as on the wood decorations. Their patient application of the scientific method has given wonderful results as you will witness in your visit and as shown in the attached photographs.
They have finished several of the lunettes already as well as various decorative designs in wood. In general the various elements that enter into the work are the following: Vacuum removal of the superficial deposits, re-stabilising the pictorial surface using acrylic resin, cleaning of the painted surfaces, re-stabilising the adhesion between the wall support and the plaster, sealing cracks and crevices, pictorial reintegration by watercolour technique and pigments in powder form.
The lunette of tempera on wood at the end of the hall has been removed and sent to a different restoration department since they were more adapt for this kind of restoration.
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