Galleria Immagini Prima, Durante e Dopo

Fourteenth-century wall in the Cortile degli Svizzeri

The wall, which was first documented in 1337, is the oldest architectural part of the whole Palazzo Ducale complex. It is about a metre thick and almost nine metres high and borders the Cortile degli Svizzeri at the Church of San Romano end. It has a gateway with stone hinges with a gate that was put there in 1927 to replace a wooden door that was regarded as unusable. Above the gateway is an imperial eagle rediscovered in 1976 when the fresco The Liberty of Lucca by Pietro Testa was removed. The fresco is now in the Footmen’s Room in the Palazzo.

When restoration began, the wall was in an advanced stage of decay. The east part was covered with a wisteria plant that reached to the top of the wall and the roof over the gateway. The surface of the wall was covered with a coat of crumbling cement that had been recently applied.

Restoration involved removing the cement finish in order to identify the older plasterwork. Once traces of this had been found and cleaned, it was possible to reconstruct the decoration which consisted of two rows of grey ashlars alternating with one of black, separated by white lines. The painting on the original sections of plasterwork was restored.
In order to give a single reading to the whole and reconstruct the original appearance of the design, alternating light and dark rows were added to the new parts.

Decorated elements, exactly like the traces found on the wall surface in terms of technique, design and colour, were found next to the main arch and the inner arch. With these it was possible to establish that they were contemporary with the imperial eagle fresco. Here too, once the traces had been cleaned, the original design in the inner arch was reconstructed and, because of the significant amount of preserved plaster, it was possible to recreate the picture.

As regards the eagle, the project chosen for conservative restoration consisted of cleaning, consolidating and plastering the existing parts of the fresco. As regards reinstatement, this was carried out only to the parts that were clearly legible, such as the framework of white, red and black bands and the parts of the eagle’s body in which most of the design had survived.