Marble Bust of Pietro Zen by Alessandro Vittoria
Bode Museum, Berlin
Restoration of the marble bust of Pietro Zen by Alessandro Vittoria, Berlin
Bode Museum, Berlin
Staatlitche Museen zu Berlin Preussischer Kulturbesitz
The bust of Pietro Zen is among the most important works of the Venetian Renaissance in the Bode Museum’s collection. It was acquired in 1841 by Gustav Waagen, the first director of the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, from the Pajaro collection of Venice. Zeno’s bust was severely damaged by fires. Yhe bust was brought to the Soviet Union after the war and returned to East Berlin in 1958. It was held in museum storage until its 2010 restoration, funded by Venetian Heritage. where it was saved in a museum storage. The fire not only damaged the marble surface, creating large blackened, browned, and yellowed areas, but also caused losses such as the head and both ears. (The neck and folds of the cloak, where the cloak is attached with a pin on the left shoulder were interspersed with noticeable chip-ping.) Pictures from 1933, where the bust was still intact, served as a reference for the restoration. The work commenced with the bust’s head, followed by an overall cleaning by micro-vaporization and another phase of removal of brown and black deposits left by the fire. The work was whitened through sponging with turpentine and then dipotassium phosphate. It was then washed with distilled water, which also served to remove salt deposits. Further steps were taken to prevent unstable parts from deteriorating.
In addition to reconstructing the pedestal, the ears were also reconstructed by referring to the detailed photos taken before the fire and a plaster cast made before the war. A mold was made true to the original with which a quartz and marble powder mixture was devised in a color similar to the marble’s original surface. This procedure was also used to reconstruct other clearly visible gaps. The final phase of restoration involved repairing the appearance of the marble surface, both in its color tones and shine. The new pedestal was treated to create a suitably aged patina.