Project Description

Chapel of the Ark of Saint Anthony
Basilica of Saint Anthony, Padua

Restoration of the Chapel of the Ark of Saint Anthony

Basilica of Saint Anthony, Padua

Project director
Lamberto Brisighella per la Veneranda Arca di Sant’Antonio

Sansovino s.n.c., Venezia

Fondazione Ca.Ri.Pa.Ro.
Venetian Heritage

Start date
April 2008

End date
May 2009

180.000,00 €

The chapel is situated on the left aisle of the Basilica. Today, the chapel is the result of a reconstruction that lasted for the entire 16th century. Work on the decorative elements ended in the 17th century, with further contributions and enhancements continuing throughout the 1700s. Most art historians attribute the design to Tullio Lombardo. The work was overseen by the proto-Giovanni Minello, assisted by his son Antonio and by other sculptors trained by the Lombardos. The elder Minello directed the works for more than twenty years and was succeeded by Giovanni Maria Falconetto, who oversaw the completion of both the façade and the gilded stucco vault. The design comes from one of the cartoons created by Raphael’s prolific Roman workshop. The execution of the nine high reliefs representing the miracles of the Saint took more than seventy years: from 1501 when the reliefs of The Miracle of the Child and The Miracle of the Reattached Leg were commissioned to Antonio and Tullio Lombardo respectively, to 1577, when Gerolamo Campagna completed the relief of The Resuscitation of the Murdered Man in 1572. Between 1593 and 1594 Tiziano Aspetti gave the altar its present shape.There are four angels and double-branched candlesticks, all in bronze, on the balustrade. The tabernacle  and the antependium enriched the altar in 1742. Between the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century, two solid silver candelabras made by the Venetian G. Balbi completed the rich decorative arrangement of the chapel. The candelabras stand on two marble bases, one of them by Filippo Parodi (1689), the other by Orazio Marinali (1712). The restoration, funded by the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Padova e Rovigo and Venetian Heritage, concerns the whole Chapel of the Saint (excepted the ceiling and the façade, which had been restored in 1999-2000). The high reliefs were in a critical state of conservation due to the humidity of the north-facing external wall. In addition to centuries of candle smoke, previous inappropriate treatments and the influx of pilgrims visiting the Chapel had caused widespread decay. Work was also structural: since the 14th century the north-facing Chapel has had conservation problems, which partly explains why the original fresco decorations were replaced with marbles and bronzes in the 16th century. This is why the restoration started from external walls, the high-reliefs and the altar. It was necessary to move the corpse of the Saint to another location.