Francesco Morosini (1619-1694), leader and doge of Venice from 1688 to his death, achieved great military and political fortune in his lifetime, marking a great phase in the history of the Serenissima, whose territories and trade routes extended at the time all the way up to the Middle East.
The recent celebrations for the 400th anniversary of the birth of Morosini, in 2019, provided the opportunity to shed more light of the history of the Republic in the seventeenth century.
For the exhibition “Francesco Morosini 1619-1694. L’uomo, il doge, il condottiero” [Francesco Morosini 1619-1694. The man, the doge, the leader] held in Palazzo Corner-Mocenigo, Venetian Heritage was responsible for the restoration of 23 out of 48 paintings with scenes of the military campaigns fought by the “Capitano da Mar”.
This pictorial cycle was luckily saved from the antiquarian market and and, after a long negotiation between the Venetian municipality and Morosini’s heirs, it became part of the Raccolte Civiche, now Correr Museum in Venice.
This pictorial cycle details the two great military campaigns carried out by Venice during the seventeenth century against the Ottoman Empire for the control of the merchant routes in the Mediterranean Sea: the war of Candia and the war of Morea.
Each canvas has a cartouche with the description of the painted war scene, making it easier to arrange the painting chronologically following the sequence of Morosini’s campaigns. Overall, the paintings were clearly meant to celebrate the glory of Venice and the Doge’s military exploits.
The paintings are by different hands and were commissioned between the end of the seventeenth century century and the beginning of the eighteenth century but the authors remain unknown, although they can be generally attributed to the current of the “battaglisti” (painters specialised in battles), an artistic trend which started in Europe at the end of the sixteenth century and lasted until the late seventeenth century.
The paintings now restored were generally in good condition. However, in many of them the surface varnish was altered with a yellow hue. The signs of old retouching were also visible due to the altered colors. Finally there were signs of a old coating with flour paste that, in some cases, had led to the deformation of the canvas’ corners due to the frame’s original structure.
The main part of the restoration was the removal of dust and dirt, as well as of the altered varnish, the old retouchings and the oxidized patinas. Finally, the surface lacunae were filled with reversible and long-lasting colors.