The season of beauty, of lightness, of rebirth.
The ideal time to present a new project, in which we are once again committed to preserving the art that makes Italy’s cultural heritage unique.
In collaboration with Fondaco Italia, in April we began the restoration of the sumptuous monumental fireplace and adjoining statues in the Salone d’Ercole of Palazzo Farnese, seat of the French Embassy in Rome.
A delve into the history of Palazzo Farnese
Palazzo Farnese is one of the capital’s Renaissance symbols. Its construction, requested by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (later Pope Paul III) in 1513, took no less than seventy-six years and involved four architects, including Sangallo the Younger and Michelangelo.
Over the centuries, the palace has been owned by the Farnese family, the Bourbon family of Naples, the state of France and, since 1936, the state Italy. Throughout its history, it has welcomed numerous Italian and French dignitaries, including Général De Gaulle and Pope John Paul II. It is now home to the French Embassy and the École Française de Rome.
Restoration work in the Hall of Hercules
The Salone d’Ercole (the Hall of Hercules) is a room of generous dimensions that immediately leaves one open-mouthed: due to its magnificence, it’s used as a state room by the French Embassy.
The back wall of the room houses a monumental fireplace about four and a half metres high, made of antique polychrome and veined white marble by Jacopo Barozzi and has been known, since 1564, as Il Vignola. Almost a dozen varieties of marble were used, including Giallo, Verde Antico, Portasanta and Porphyry.
Two white marble statues, sculpted by Guglielmo della Porta, stand at the sides and represent the virtues of Abundance and Charity. The fireplace is crowned by the coat of arms of Ranuccio Farnese, held by two putti.
The restoration work will last two months and is being carried out as part of a special maintenance project, to restore the complete legibility of the marbles and enhance the monument.
The first phase includes a thorough cleaning operation, which will be followed by securing the areas affected by cracks and spalling, and plastic and chromatic reintegration of the gaps. Non-original fillings deemed unsuitable for conservation will also be removed, both for aesthetic and conservation reasons.
The commitment of Palazzetti and Fondaco Italia
As mentioned, the restoration at Palazzo Farnese is certainly nothing new for Palazzetti.
Our adventure with Fondaco Italia started back in 2006, when the city of Venice offered us the opportunity to contribute to the restoration of the splendid fireplaces of the Doge’s Palace. The project involved the four institutional halls: the Sala dell’Anticollegio, the Sala del Collegio, the Sala della Bussola and the Sala dei tre capi del Consiglio dei Dieci.
In 2020, the baton was passed to Turin. 10 restorers worked almost surgically on the Monumental Fireplace in the Hall of the Swiss Guard in the Royal Palace: a 17th century giant in polychrome marble, decorated with putti and half-busts.
A gallery with the result of the two restorations is available to view on Fondaco Italia’s website: you can find it at this link.
Cover photo by Fondaco Italia