Getty saves Barberini treasures

The Los-Angeles based foundation donated 250,000 euros to restore the Great Throne Room

Constantine triumphant in divine light, Maxentius overwhelmed by the fury of decline, Bacchus and Ariadne dance.In an unprecedented operation for Rome, a patron from overseas comes to rescue the Apollonian and Dionysian heroes of Palazzo Barberini.

This is the first time that the illustrious Los Angeles-based philanthropic foundation linked to the historical figure of Jean Paul Getty has landed in the capital for a special restoration project. 

In fact, Palazzo Barberini, home of the National Galleries of Ancient Art directed by Flaminia Gennari Santori, has been awarded a 250,000 euro grant to inaugurate the mega-restoration site of the Throne Room, an operation that is part of the Conserving Canvas project that Getty dedicates to the health issues of paintings on canvas, "with the aim of fostering the transmission of knowledge between generations," as they explain from the institution.Imagine that from 4 July  to 17 September in the palace, where the greats of the 1600s such as Bernini, Borromini and Pietro da Cortona competed in flair and virtuosity, a workshop- school will open for nine scholar restorers.  They have been selected from around the world and will work in teams alongside museum technicians. Photo credit: lornet / Shutterstock.comOne can almost imagine the proud gaze of Cardinal Francesco Barberini who in the 600s decorated the splendors of the Throne Room of the family palace with the three gigantic canvases.

They are the Battle of Constantine and Maxentius by Carlo Viva, known as Carluccio Napoletano, a painstaking copy of Giulio Romano's famous Vatican fresco measuring almost six meters by three meters, and the two titanic pictorial compositions by Giuseppe Belloni, commissioned between 1665 and 1673 to replace, at the request of Cardinal Barberini himself, the originals previously commissioned from Giovan Francesco Romanelli, but sent as a diplomatic gift from the Barberinis to the King of England Charles II. 

The viewer gets a view of these boundless murals evoking The Marriage of Peleus and Thetis and Bacchus and Ariadne, more than seven meters long by three meters high.

The restorations will be open to the public

What seems to be ailing these masterpieces? First of all structural problems, being exceptionally large paintings. Therefore, the treatments will focus on structural reinforcement interventions, making use of water-based adhesives that are non-toxic, environmentally friendly, sustainable and reversible. In detail, the restoration team will be organized into three different teams that will intervene in three separate phases on the respective canvases through special workshops between July and September (July 4-16, July 25-August 6, September 5-17). The great thing is that thanks to Getty, the Throne Room will become an open construction site that will allow the public to follow the different phases of the operations, and to attend, thanks to a series of dedicated appointments, explanations of the activities underway. All materials and reflections emerging from the workshops will feed into a conference at the end of October. "The project," explained Flaminia Gennari Santori in a press conference, "was made possible thanks to the close relationship between our museum, an international institution of the highest profile such as the Getty Foundation and a private operator, C.B.C., Conservazione Beni Culturali, an important restoration company that will work closely together to carry out the work: a demonstration of how the collaboration of different realities and skills allows the realization of projects of great ambition and quality”.Photo credit: lornet /