Palazzo Ducale, Porta della Carta, 1976-79


1976-79 The choice of this project, opposite the Loggetta, was a continuation of the Fund's interest in stone. The contract for this gate, the principal and ceremonial entrance to the Palazzo Ducale, was signed in 1438 by the architect-sculptors Giovanni and Bartolomeo Bon. The polychrome stone decoration is one of the last and most flamboyant examples of the Venetian Gothic style. In 1975 the Headley Trust offered a substantial sum to be spent through the fund on a repair project. Scaffolding on three floors was erected to encase the full height of the gate. Electricity, hot and cold water were laid on and there were windows on each floor and a trapdoor and winch to haul up the delicate and and specialised equipment being used. Thanks to the earlier experience at the Loggetta, efforts were made to restore the damaged stone in situ. The surface deterioration due to sulphation, algae and the other causes was hideous. Black incrustations were softened by bio-packs for a month, revealing traces of colour and gilding on the Bon sculptures. More delicate residual cleaning was done with a new aero-abrasive device and the statues were reinforced and protected against further erosion by impregnation with a silicon resin, using a vacuum process specially adapted for external surfaces. Finally, a reversible protective skin of resin and wax was applied. The cost slightly exceeded the sum offered, even though scaffolding and services were supplied by the Palazzo Ducale administration, but the Headley Trust willingly accepted the increased figure.

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