Study of the deterioration products, gilding, and polychromy of the stones of the Scuola Grande Di San Marco's façade in Venice

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Fabrizio Antonelli; Lorenzo Lazzarini; Stefano Cancelliere; Elena Tesser;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 61, Number 2, p.74-85 (2016)


The Scuola Grande di San Marco is one of the most outstanding Renaissance buildings in Venice. Destroyed by fire in 1485, the Scuola was reconstructed between 1487 and 1495 by Pietro Lombardi (and sons), together with Giovanni Buora and Mauro Codussi. The façade is considered one of the finest and most original exteriors of Venetian buildings and in particular features refined sculptural and painted decorations and a remarkable pictorial effect created by the extensive use of polychrome marbles and the false perspective view between the pilasters of the lower order. Most of the stone materials (Istrian and Verona red limestones, nero di Roveré, pavonazzetto toscano, Carrara marble and various reused antique marbles) present evident decay phenomena such as scaling, exfoliation, powdering, fissuring, salt efflorescence, black crusts, and artificial patinas of various kinds. The present study reports the results of petrographic and chemical laboratory analyses carried out in preparation for the conservation treatment of the building, in order to characterize the main micro- and macro-morphologies of decay and to identify the causes and mechanisms of deterioration as well as the nature and application technique of the polychromy, gilding, and patinas present on parts of the monumental Renaissance façade.