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Vatican Museums Gallery of the Candelabra is restored again: re-discovering Pope Leo XIII

2016-07-03

When this gallery was built in the late nineteenth century, the Vatican was a territory surrounded by an enemy country, Italy, and Pope Leo XIII, felt like a prisoner inside the Vatican walls. Then it occurred to him to create the Candelabra Gallery, a work of art that displayed his own personal stamp of approval.

This masterpiece has once again been restored to its splendid luster after the third restoration.

MICOL FORTI
Curator of the Collection
"The importance of this decoration is mostly political. Pope Leo XIII wanted it to reflect his cultural program. He wanted to blend the arts, science, work, society and industry of the new society of the late nineteenth century so that they could all be interrelated with the Church.”

This time, the Restoration has not been focused on the walls and statues, but in the most delicate part: the frescoes. The colors have faded away due to a surprising reason: heat.

FRANCESCA PERSEGATI
Head of the team of restorers
"With all of these windows in the gallery from earlier times in the nineteenth century, where there were few visitors, few scholars. And today we have up to 30,000 in a day, and each of them brings in heat and humidity, so we are part of the problem.”

MICOL FORTI
Curator of the Collection
"Within the gallery there are peaks of high and low temperatures that 'stressed' the pictorial film, impose high 'stress', so we intervened by adapting the lighting and climate control within the gallery. We have isolated the gallery from infrared heating by placing special curtains in the windows.”

The team of seven restorers has had their work cut out for them upon finding that the two previous restorations had been detrimental to the paintings.

This restoration has taken more than two and a half years of study and fieldwork and has cost approximately 800,000 dollars, but now the work of Pope Leo XIII can once again be shown in the same detail that he wanted. 


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