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The ceiling before restoration
Machine of Augusto Morari

Materials and methods

The load-bearing beams with applied moulded cornices are sixteenth century.
In the neoclassical period, the original panels of the coffers were replaced by stucco ones moulded on site on a latticework of canes applied to joists of various sizes.

Recorded restoration work

Eighteenth century
In 1774 it was being used as a kitchen, while in 1797 Paolo Pozzo was forced to carry out work on the ceiling, destroyed by Napoleonic troops who had been using the palazzo as a barracks and prison.

Nineteenth century
In Girolamo Staffieri restored the ceiling, repairing the coffers and creating the stuccoes. The frieze is part of the original Giulio Romano decoration.

Twentieth century
Assirto Coffani and Enrico Baldassari carried out further work after the Second World War.

Restoration 2002/2003

The ceiling was restored by Augusto Morari.

Conditions prior to restoration

In contact with rusty nails, the cords that supported the canes had deteriorated and broken, causing the thick mortar and stucco layer to bulge and drop off in parts. The wooden joists were partly or completely detached from the canes; the lime and sand layer in which the canes were embedded was cracked; the canes were split, powdery and dried out.

Work carried out

Stuccoes and panels: these were lined with a double layer of Japanese paper and strengthened with acrylic resin.

Machine for taking down the panels: a machine was purpose-built for taking down each of the panels. This enabled the coffers to be brought down to a convenient height for cleaning, and also for the ceiling to be cleaned and reinforced with a metal net kept in place with resin and sand.

Centre panel: the octagon dedicated to Diana, which only had a crack in the centre, was left in place and simply pinned to the joists with hardwood and glue. The crack was filled with resin. 

Further reading:

  • P. ARTONI, G. MAROCCHI, I recuperati ambienti di Palazzo Te in Mantova. Tracce per una storia dei restauri, in “Storia e cultura del restauro in Lombardia. Esiti di un biennio di lavoro in archivi storici”, Associazione Giovanni Secco Suardo, Lurano, Il Prato editore, 2009, pp. 141-187.

With the support of:

logo seccosuardo1fondazione cariplo