Turin, concluded restoration of Shroud Chapel altar damaged by 1997 fire

The restoration of the Shroud Chapel altar has been completed. It had been deeply damaged by the 1997 fire.

As of today, Antonio Bertola’saltar inside the Chapel of the Shroud returns to the Royal Museums of Turin ’s tour route: in fact, its restoration, which had been necessary since the fire ofApril 11, 1997, when the work was deeply damaged by flames, has been completed. The Chapel was reopened to the public in 2018 and today the monument is returned in its entirety. The restoration was co-financed by the Ministry of Culture-Art Bonus 2018 projects, the Compagnia di San Paolo Foundation and the 1997 collection of the La Stampa-Specchio dei Tempi Foundation.

The altar of the Chapel of the Shroud, commissioned by the Duke of Savoy Victor Amadeus II, was designed by engineer and mathematician Antonio Bertola (Muzzano, Biella 1647 - 1719) between 1688 and 1694 to accommodate the Holy Shroud, kept in the central urn from 1694 to 1993. Its layout fits the circular shape of the Chapel and has two fronts, one facing the Royal Palace and the other the Cathedral. Resembling a giant reliquary, the altar is made of black marble from Frabosa, embellished with decorations and gilded wood carvings. Although the drawings for this project are unknown, it is most likely that the structure reflects the scenographic thinking of Guarino Guarini, who preceded the framing in the center of the loggia overlooking the cathedral as a perspective fulcrum for those who, from the nave, turn their gaze toward the Royal Palace.

Entrusted to the San Luca Consortium of Turin, designed and directed by architect Marina Feroggio with restorer Tiziana Sandri and art historians Franco Gualano and Lorenza Santa of the Royal Museums, the restoration work restores the altar to its architectural image. The stone and wooden parts were restored and integrated, and the sculptural decorative apparatuses, which were saved from the fire because they were kept in the Sacristy, were relocated to their original position. Finally, the sacred furnishings were relocated and the gilded wooden balustrades of the Chapel’s three choruses, which were also completely destroyed in the fire, were also reconstructed.

Pending the reopening of the museums and cultural venues, visitors will be able to view the altar and the monument as a whole through the Chapel’s large window, which will remain open extraordinarily from March 31 to April 7.

The Consulta per la Valorizzazione dei Beni Artistici e Culturali di Torino has also promoted the creation of a multimedia project to offer visitors to the Royal Museums all the information about the restoration of the Chapel and the altar: afree app using augmented reality has been created. The latter will be released on the occasion of the reopening of the Royal Museums to the public and was created in collaboration with technology partners Ribes Solutions and Visivalab.

“The restoration of the altar is the latest step in the complex recovery of the Chapel of the Shroud,” commented Enrica Pagella, director of the Royal Museums. “Finally, twenty-four years after the terrible burning, we want to celebrate the rebirth of an amazing and unique work, whose majestic structure was at once a sign of respect for the relic, a focal point for the praying faithful, and a celebration of the power of the ruling house.”

Pictured is the altar of the Chapel of the Shroud. Credits Musei Reali Torino

Turin, concluded restoration of Shroud Chapel altar damaged by 1997 fire
Turin, concluded restoration of Shroud Chapel altar damaged by 1997 fire

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