Restorations in Rome

In the late nineteenth century, the impact of Haussmann's Paris was felt in large Italian cities, Milan, Florence, Naples, Bologna, which underwent similar treatment. Rome remained, however, relatively intact although there were gradual changes in the appearance of historic houses and palaces to the degree that there were complaints by culturally conscious observers (Letarouilly, 1849; Brown, 1905). From 1864 the municipality started exercising some control; in 1866, a code prohibited additions to buildings of architectural or art-historical value, reinforced in 1873. At the same time, a new masterplan proposed the widening of streets and the construction of ministerial buildings to respond to Rome's status as the capital of the United Kingdom of Italy. In 1870, the Ministry of Education started listing buildings of historic or artistic importance classified at the national or local level. Ancient monuments were recorded by the Office of Antiquities, and later architecture by the Accademia di San Luca. Following a meeting in 1886, a new building code was prepared for Rome in 1887 enforcing the protection of listed historic buildings. The list was published in 1912 together with the building code of that year.

In 1890, an association was formed in Rome for the protection of historic buildings, Associ-azione artistica fra i cultori di architettura, following the model of the English SPAB and the French Amis des monuments, which had also been contacted officially. The members of the association included government officers, regional delegates, commissioners, professors of the Accademia and architects such as Boito, D'Andrade and Partini. The members were involved in administration, legal protection and the promotion of historic research and restoration; the association became instrumental in preparing records and measured drawings of historic buildings. Three categories of 'monuments' were identified:

1. buildings of historic or artistic value;

2. buildings or parts of buildings of historic or artistic value, which could be moved to a new site if required for public utility;

3. buildings of interest to the history of art.

Legal protection was mainly proposed to the first category; the others remained to the care of the local authority. 'Monument' was defined in broad terms, as: 'any building, public or private, of any period, or any ruin, that manifests significant artistic character, or important historic memory, as well as any part of a building, any movable or immovable object, and any fragment that manifests such character.'30

Amongst the restorations promoted by the Association were the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, the church of Santa Saba, and the so-called Torre degli Anguillara in Trastevere. Santa Maria in Cosmedin became an early illustration of the intentions of Boito in 1883. The history of the church dated back to Roman times, and, in 1718, Giuseppe Sardi (1680-1753) had given it a Baroque facade transforming the interior with fake vaults. In 1891, a project was prepared for its restoration (1893-1899) by a commission of the Ministry of Education, chaired by Giovanni Battista Giovenale (1849-1934), then chairman of the Associazione. Considering that the building was a 'living monument', not a museum, the question was raised to which period it should be restored, and the twelfth century was agreed. The eighteenth-century front, a fine example of Sardi's architecture, was 'stripped' away. Careful studies were made to provide a secure basis for the restoration, although many details remained to be 'interpreted'. All new elements were marked and dated to make them recognizable. There was discussion whether the remains of painted decorations, corresponding to two different periods, should be detached and replaced with a copy ex integro, but it was finally agreed to keep them in situ. For the main front of the church, models were searched from buildings of the same period, such as San Clemente or San Bartolomeo all'isola. The former was chosen, although the latter would probably have been nearer to the original. Although this restoration still belongs to the stylistic tradition, it also shows a conscious drive toward a conservation approach along the lines of Boito.

Figure 7.16 The baroque façade of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome, designed by G. Sardi, was removed in the nineteenth-century restoration

The period at the turn of the century was distinguished by archaeological interests, not only in Italy but also in other countries. Pompeii and Herculaneum were excavated and restored, first under the direction of Giuseppe Fiorelli, and then under Amedeo Maiuri. In Rome, Rodolfo Amedeo Lanciani (1847-1929), an archaeologist and topographer, published the Forma Urbis Romae (1893-1901), an archaeological map drawn to the scale one to a thousand, recording all known antique remains in Rome. In 1887, Professor Guido Baccelli proposed to protect a large archaeological area extending from the Capitol Hill and Forum Romanum to the Palatine, the Domus Aurea, Circus Maximus, the Thermae of Caracalla, and along the Via Appia to the south. The cultural associations of Rome recommended keeping the area as a park with its naturally undulating ground, and forbidding vehicular traffic, but in reality the area became a large excavation site. Lanciani had been the director of excavations since 1878, and Boni succeeded him in 1899. The whole Forum area between the Capitol Hill and the Arch of Titus was excavated down to

Figure 7.17 Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome, after restoration by G. Giovenale in 1893-9. The elevation was partly rebuilt on the basis of a hypothesis. New parts were differentiated according to principles announced by C. Boito in 1883

the Roman level. The church of Sant' Adriano was restored to its antique form as the Roman Curia Iulia (1930-36), removing all later architecture. The eighteenth-century elevation by Carlo Fontana was removed from the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli to display the remains of the Roman Diocletian Thermae. In 1892, Beltrami surveyed the Pantheon, and the two seventeenth-century bell towers were removed to re-establish the stylistic unity of the monument.

Looking back at the era from Ruskin and Morris to Clemen and Boito, and from Viollet-le-Duc and Scott to von Schmidt and Partini, we can see an essential period in the development of policies for safeguarding historic buildings. The practice was strongly influenced by stylistic restoration, but this approach was increasingly placed under attack by conservationists. It is a period of powerful technical and industrial development, and the growth of urban centres; it is also a period of research and archaeology. Several countries establish legislation and a state-controlled system for the conservation of cultural heritage in its various aspects, collections and works of art, ancient monuments and public buildings. Modern conservation theory and principles are based on the foundations laid here.

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