Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari


Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Equestrian Statue, 1993-94 Within the basilica is the earliest freestanding equestrian sculpture in Venice. It commemorates Paolo Savelli, a mercenary in the service of the Venetian republic, who had contributed to the cost of building the Frari. A generous donation from the Headley Trust was used by Venice in Peril to restore the equestrian group. The horse was moved to the Chapter House for restoration, and the rider taken to the restorers' workshop. Test cleaning on small areas revealed successive overpaintings. With the patient use of scalpels these layers were removed down to the second, very early, repainting. Had all four layers of overpainting been removed, the restorer would have had to paint in large areas as the original layer had nearly disappeared. Enough of the second layer of paint remains for the appearance of the statue to be faithful to the artist's original intention. Access to the interior of the horse was gained by means of the removable panel on the far side and all parts were disinfested and consolidated, using both chemical and carpentry methods. This was a joint project with the State; the Superintendency used ministerial funding to restore the sarcophagus on which the horse and rider stand.

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