Giuseppe Torretti (1661-1743) was a Venetian sculptor and engraver, mainly active in Venice, where he left works in many churches, among which Santa Maria Formosa, San Giorgio Maggiore, gli Scalzi, i Gesuiti, San Stae and San Moisè.
He was also the master of a workshop, later continued by his nephews, in which worked also the young Canova. In late XVII century Torretti’s atelier was already successful and starting from 1690 he hold many institutional roles in the corporation of engravers. Torretti’s style initially followed the fashion of Venetian Baroque, in the wake of Giusto Le Court (1627-1679), as evidenced by his Sant’Andrea, made for one of the niches in the transept of the basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore.
After this first phase, following his stay in Rome in the 1700s, he adopted a more linear and sober style. The wooden crucifix of Moisè was sculpted after he returned from Rome, by 1711. The work is mentioned in Pallade Veneta – a review of the time – as a “Crucifix made by the very ingenious sculptor Torretti, and attached to a cross decorated with tortoise and mother of pearl of singular craft.” The work consists in a Christ covered with a red-brown lacquer to simulate box-wood, a wooden cross adorned with tortoise scales against a silver background, with mother-of-pearl decorations, and, finally, by a wooden support.
As it is known, following the exceptional tides that hit Venice in November 2019, the Crucifix was damaged by water. The water caused the wood to swell – especially in the lower part of the support – and the detachment of some of the various elements that covered the wooden structure. Among those completely detached some were recuperated after the flood.
The restoration intervention, supported by Venetian Heritage thanks to the fundraising campaign #supportvenice launched immediately after the flood, involved the consolidation of the entire structure and the reintegration of both the structural (wood) and superficial (lacquer) lacunae. The elements fallen due to the weakening of the glue caused by water have been reattached, and the entire Crucifix has been cleaned from the deposits left by salt water.