Capitals from the ground floor arcade of the Palazzo Ducale


About the project

Following the project to clean and conserve the stonecarvings on the Porta della Carta, in 1976-9, the director of the Palazzo Ducale approached Venice in Peril in 1993 for help with the 14th- and 15th-century capitals which were originally part of the ground floor colonnade facing out to the Bacino one on side and to the Piazzetta on the other. The capitals, carved by different hands and presenting richly detailed scenes on each of their eight sides, with one dating to as early as 1344, had been removed for their protection and replaced with copies during the repairs of the 1880s. 

Public funding had already been allocated for the renovation of the vaulted rooms where they were being stored, but there was not enough to cover restoration of the capitals themselves. Cleaning and consolidation revealed the deeply undercut figures, variety of foliate ornament and range of composition, in a complex but vivid scheme which encompasses the many aspects of the city of good government that Venice aspired to be.

 The capitals were much praised by Ruskin who described them in detail in The Stones of Venice.  These 15 capitals are among 42 which form the centrepiece of the Ducal palace’s ground-floor Museo dell’Opera.

Project location

In Brief

  • This project was was particularly close to the heart of Peter Boizot funder of Pizza Express, which by the 1990s was the major benefactor of Venice in Peril.
  • The donation of  a percentage of each Veneziana pizza sold by Pizza Express has raised £2million for conservation work in Venice and continues today via the Veneziana Fund – one of the most successful models for business support of heritage in the UK.
  • For information on the Palazzo Ducale
  • For further information on the Museo dell’Opera in the Ducal Palace and the other architectural exhibits in its collections click here

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