Art and culture are an essential element of the set of values of the Prada Group. The desire to safeguard the artistic heritage, repository of our cultural background, inspired the collaboration between Prada and FAI - Fondo Ambiente Italiano: a series of artwork restorations conceived to enhance Italian artistic heritage.
Giorgio Vasari’s extraordinary Last Supper, painted on a wooden panel and dated 1546, was so severely damaged by the Arno river flooding in 1966 that it was left untouched.
The Laboratorio dell’Opificio delle Pietre Dure, in Florence, started in 2004 the delicate work of restoration, originally sponsored by the ordinary planning of the Ministry for Cultural and Environmental Heritage, through a special fund of Protezione Civile and by a fund managed by the Getty Foundation as part of the Panel Paintings Initiative. Since 2014, Prada and FAI have contributed to reaching the final stages of the skillful and patient restoration of the painting.
On November 4, 2016, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Florence flood, the President of the Italian Republic, accompanied by the Minister for Cultural Heritage, the Mayor of Florence and Patrizio Bertelli, celebrated the return of the Last Supper to the Cenacle at Santa Croce in Florence, where it once again took up its original position inside the refectory.
This circumstance represented the occasion to emphasize the importance and exceptional nature of this achievement. It is an extraordinary story of studies, restoration and technological development, which made the return of a masterpiece to the world possible. Not only an important action for the safeguard of the artistic heritage, but also an opportunity to devise and implement innovative preservation techniques.
In 2014, thanks to the donation of Prada and of Fondo Ambientale Italiano, the Teatro Regio of Turin was equipped with a new, 48 m long by 10 m tall curtain, with an overall weight of 1450 kilos and a total opening width of 16 meters.
The high-tech design of the curtain allows both horizontal and vertical opening and closing, operations completed in just 5 and 3 seconds, respectively, allowing Italian and German-style curtain raisings and the more complicated French-style movement, which is a combination of the previous two. The iconic cherry red of its velvet reflects the color scheme chosen by architect Carlo Mollino, who designed the theatre inaugurated in 1973, after a fire destroyed the seventeenth-century building in 1936.
In Puglia, Prada helped FAI restoring a fifteenth-century polyptych by Antonio Vivarini preserved in the Pinacoteca Provinciale of Bari, and the well of Santa Maria in Cerrate, on the outskirts of Lecce. The five remaining panels of the polyptych (three panels of the upper portion are conserved in the Diocesan Museum of Andria) date back to 1467. The works are prized for their fine artistic quality, with subtle hues and slender figures, among which we can recognize three Franciscan Saints belonging to the same religious order of the Convent of Santa Maria in Vetere of Andria, from which the polyptych comes. The back of the panels contains charcoal sketches made by the workshop of Vivarini, if not by the artist himself. The renovation phases included the full sanitizing of the panels to restore the original colors by removing oxidized paint that had dimmed the intensity and brightness of the original colors.
It was probably in the twelfth century that the Normans built the complex of Santa Maria in Cerrate Abbey, now owned by the provincial administration of Lecce. The well located by the church, in the middle of the yard and facing the twelfth-century cloister, was built in 1585 by the Ospedale degli Incurabili, which gained possession of the complex in the sixteenth century. The date is inscribed on the architrave. Over the years, the well has suffered major material damage from erosion, which has subsequently modified the sculptural and decorative patterns and opened fissures in the structure. The restoration work repaired the serious damage caused by the well’s long exposure to the elements.
The Sacello di San Prosdocimo, built in the fifth century A.D. and dedicated to the first bishop of Padua, is the oldest place of Christian worship in the city, now a side chapel included in the Basilica di Santa Giustina.
Thanks to the project “Let’s shed new light on San Prosdocimo” it was possible to fit the place with a lighting system that posed no threat to the colors of the frescoes and mosaics. Besides contributing to the correct preservation of the paintings, the new light also enhanced the perception of what is actually an extremely powerful and evocative architectural design. The project saw the collaboration of the Superintendence for the Architectural and Landscape Heritage and for the Historical, Artistic and Ethno-anthropological Heritage.
On the occasion of the opening of a new store in Galleria Cavour, Prada, in partnership with FAI and the Superintendence for the Historical, Artistic and Ethno-Anthropological Heritage of Bologna, supported the restoration of four statues at the Accademia di Belle Arti and three arches situated in Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio. The four gypsum statues, which date back to the eighteenth century, are part of the original collection with which Count Luigi Ferdinando Marsili founded the Accademia di Belle Arti in Bologna in 1710. The original sculptures are Greek and Roman statues currently exhibited at the Uffizi, in Florence, and at the Archaeological Museum in Naples, and symbolize Ercole Farnese, Flora Farnese, a prancing satyr and a group of warriors.
Furthermore, Prada contributed to the restoration of three sixteenth-century arches at Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio, the former seat of the University of Bologna, which currently houses the historical university library with its more than one million tomes. The arches, decorated between 1625 and 1628, include the monument to Bartolomeo Bonaccorsi (1625), the student emblems (1627-1628) and the monument dedicated to the jurist Francesco Barbadori (1628).