Project Description

Treasury of San Salvador
Church of San Salvador, Venice

project
restoration of the Treasury and furnishing of the exhibition room

location
Church of San Salvador, Venice

project director
Ministry of Culture, Monuments and Fine Arts
Office of Venice

contractors
Re.Co., Rome;
Falegnameria Giorgio Girelli, Venice;
Impianti elettrici Rado, Venice;
Loriano Regazzo restauri edili, Venice;
Arte & Conservazione di Paolo Costantini, Venice;
M. Bonaldo Marmi, Venice;
Tappezzerie Giuseppe Fuolega, Venice;
Sansovino s.n.c. di Antonio Casellati & Francesco Grimaldi, Venice

funding
Louis Vuitton;
Venetian Heritage

part of the project is included in the framework of the
UNESCO – International Private Committees Joint
Programme for the Safeguarding of Venice

start date
January 2012

end date
July 2013

cost
€ 183.000, 00

The origins of the Grand complex of San Salvador, the church and convent dedicated to Christ the Saviour, dates from the 11th to 12th centuries. It stands in the heart of the Rialto area, the “riva alta” (high bank) of the city’s expansion along the Grand Canal. Rebuilt several times, initially in Romanesque and then Gothic style, the complex took its present form during the 16th century. The artists who worked there included Giorgio Spavento, Tullio Lombardo and Jacopo Sansovino. The church holds numerous important works of art, including celebrated paintings by Titian. In the late 18th century, a time marked by the decline and then the end of the Venice Republic, the convent of San Salvador fell into a decline that threatened building itself. Following the suppression of religious properties in 1806, the convent of San Salvador was turned into a barracks. This continued under Austrian rule, and, through Italian Unification, it remained the barracks of the infantry battalion. The only two rooms of the convent that were not subject to alterations in the 19th century were those next to the sacristy and still connected to the church. These two rooms face onto the Sansovino cloister, one of which has a cross vault roof and corbels in the form of capitals in Istrian stone. Until 2011, these rooms were used for storage. Than, in agreement with the Ufficio per i beni culturali del Patriarcato di Venezia and the Soprintendenza, a complete restoration commenced with the aim of using the space for the permanent exhibition of the church’s treasury. The work involved: restoration of the cross vaults in the room and corridor; laying of new pavement in red and white Cattaro marble; restoration of all the stone architectural elements; restore of the original walnut doors and the lead glass windows. After the restoration works were complete, the spaces were furnished with an LED lighting system, in order to contain and exhibit the treasury. The work ended with installation of a new general lighting system and a suitable burglar alarm system. Venetian Heritage and Louis Vuitton financed not only the above works, but also the restoration of the liturgical objects and reliquaries that make up the treasury of the church of San Salvador. Most of these works of art (chalices, pyxes, ostensories and other objects) are made of embossed and chased silver; some are also partially gilded. Among the most beautiful and precious of these objects are the two ivory crucifixes with crosses in wood sheathed in ebony with tortoise shell inlay. All the works were covered with considerable deposits of dust and the metalwork was glazed with a not excessively thick layer of sulphuration. Some objects had been restored on the occasion of the exhibition Il Tesoro di San Salvador, arte orafa a Venezia tra fede e devozione, held in the Scuola Grande di San Teodoro at the end of 2008. The work consisted of surface cleaning carried out with pads and abrasive substances in very fine powder (calcium carbonate or sodium bicarbonate). Where there were more consistent layers of sulphuration, localised compresses with trisodium EDTA in the form of gel were applied, followed by mechanical finishing with pads and careful rinsing with deionised water to remove the residues. The moveable and unsteady elements were consolidated by fixing, repairing or replacing the loose, missing or deteriorated constraints. The silver objects were finally protected with a triple layer of nitrocellulose resin to slow down the formation of a new layer of sulphuration.