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The Frescoes Rediscovered
Save Venice Project: restoration of the Sacristy of the Church of San Salvador
Annalisa Bristot, the director of works from the Superintendence for the Architectural Heritage of Venice, has defined it as a "courageous" restoration; and indeed the final result is magnificent. The ancient sacristy of the Church of San Salvador has truly returned to its original splendour. Its frescoes faithfully restored to their original condition.
The sacristy, dating back to 1546, is embellished by an oval fresco depicting "Christ as he is blessing". The fresco is attributed to Francesco Vecellio, Tiziano's brother. The sacristy is also gracefully adorned with floral decorated friezes which the centuries had partially broken.
The Superintendence has not only restored the frescoes that were intact but has also reconstructed those that were missing, so as to bring back its original beauty the sacristy. However, and in keeping with modern restoration techniques, the reproduced missing parts remain distinct and separate from the original frescoes. There is a gradual lightening of the chromatic colour range as the new and old parts meet.
The restoration, executed by Emma Colle, was financed by the committee Save Venice and with the additional contribution of Young Friends of Save Venice, New York and Boston, and by Mr and Mrs J. Winston Fowlkes, as part of the Unesco program to save Venice and its heritage.
The presentation of the completed restoration was pleasantly transformed by Don Natalino, the parish priest, into a truly festive occasion: the Ensemble of Ancient Venetian Music performed a concert of Renaissance Spiritual Lauds and, in the ex-cloister of the Church of San Salvador, there were even refreshments, kindly offered by Telecom Italia.
On a more technical note, whereas Don Natalino believes, basing his evaluation on the Song of Songs, that an iconographic interpretation of "Jesus, the garden" is without doubt a valid one, there is some uncertainty in attributing to Francesco Vecellio the frescoes. The emphasized mannerism in the portrayal of Christ, explains Bristot, has little to do with Vecellio's artistic spirit, or at least as it is traditionally understood and studied, though recent studies have offered new tools of interpretation and further insights into his work.
from Il Gazzettino di Venezia of 24 April 2004
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