The restoration, carried out thanks to the funding of the Paola Droghetti Foundation onlus for two scholarships in collaboration with the Central Institute of Restoration, constitutes the first phase of the project of study, restoration and interpretation of Cornelia Costanza Barberini’s apartment, a magnificent and little known example of rococo taste in Rome.
That Lounge of silkone of the rooms in the apartment of the last descendant of the family, the princess Cornelia Costanza (1716-1797), an extraordinary example of the aesthetic sensibility of the 18th century, is located on the second floor of the Palazzo and is completely covered with painted silk satin panels, a material that is particularly exposed to the wear and tear of the times. It’s an intimate, one cabinet intended for private conversations, very original thanks to the very rare scenes depicted on the silks, dedicated to the lives and customs of Indians, unique in the Roman panorama.
On the silk of Palazzo Barberini, America is presented as an earthly paradise with fertile lands, sea filled with fish and lush vegetation. The inhabitants are portrayed as a diligent people, whose technical ingenuity in agriculture, fishing, cooking and sailing is highlighted. In the upper doors, the natives are portrayed half-naked, covered in feathers or short tunics like ancient Romans, according to codes that are understandable to the eyes of Europeans. There are illustrated methods of fishing with obstacles and traps made of rods and rods to catch fish and ducks, or with sharp poles used by boats, or with the ancient technique of fishing with the pelican.
The restoration of these first five panels was also an opportunity for an in-depth study of the technique for performing the materials. The exact biological analysis of the fiber and the chemical analyzes revealed the nature of the material: “a fine silk satin or satin fabric, of light color, shiny, smooth and uniform, does not present a real preparation. The image layers they are made of pigments spread directly on the fabric for overlapping glazes with watercolor effect, other times with fuller brush strokes, as in the red bird, enriched with small touches of gold “.
In the panel of red parrot: “the main colors of plant origin are indigo blue, present in the false golden frame and in the flowers, and the red pigment on the flowers called” Brazilian “, while the other pigments are of mineral origin. The clear red of birds is cinnabar (red mercury sulfide) , the blue of the frame is enamel, the green of the landscape is malachite; the gilding of the false frame was carried out on a mission with an oil resin and a lead-based siccative, on which a sheet of d gold contains impurities of silver and copper “.
In the upper door panels: “for the use of red ocher was used added red lacquer; the green ones are composed of malachite or copper resin; the blue pigment in the skirts is ultramarine blue. The use of numerous varieties of pigments and the use of lacquers indicate a very rich and varied painting”.
The restoration operations involved support with consolidation and gluing of the silk and compensation of the missing parts, cleaning of the surface layers using a method that prevented excessive penetration of the detergents and avoiding the mechanical impact that would have further weakened the silky soft support and eventually the aesthetic presentation, by balancing the large interferences of the silk, without being able to totally restore the original chromatic balance, now compromised and altered by the combined effect of the various degradation factors.
Paola Droghetti Onlus Foundation website