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Venice: Palazzo Ducale; Archangel Michael with drawn sword, corner of the Upper Loggia


Over the centuries, the Doge’s Palace has been restructured and restored countless times. Due to fires, structural failures and infiltrations on one hand, and new organizational requirements and modifications or complete overhaulings of the ornamental trappings on the other, there was hardly a moment in which come kind of works have not been under way at the building. From the Middle Ages the activities of maintenance and conservation were in the hands of a kind of “technical office”, which was in charge of all such operations and oversaw the workers and their sites: the Opera, or fabbriceria or procuratoria. After the mid-19th century, the Palace seemed to be in such a state of decay that its very survival was in question; thus from 1876 a major restoration plan was launched. The work involved the two facades and the capitals belonging to the ground-floor arcade and the upper loggia: 42 of these, which appeared to be in a specially dilapidated state, were removed and replaced by copies. The originals, some of which were masterpieces of Venetian sculpture of the 14th and 15th centuries, were placed, together with other sculptures from the facades, in an area specifically set aside for this purpose: the Museo dell’Opera. After undergoing thorough and careful restoration works, they are now exhibited, on their original columns, in these 6 rooms of the museum, which are traversed by an ancient wall in great blocks of stone, a remnant of an earlier version of the Palace. The rooms also contain fragments of statues and important architectural and decorative works in stone from the facades of the Palace.

excerpt from Palazzo Ducale | The Museo dell’Opera

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