Venice, Italy–As a brand, Bulgari has made its name synonymous with Italian heritage, and in keeping with this ethos, the company has funded the restoration of works important to Italian history and culture.
The Italian jewelry and leather goods brand has partnered with Venetian Heritage, a nonprofit that, according to its website, “operates within the framework of the UNESCO-International Private Committees Joint Programme for the Safeguarding of Venice.”
Venetian Heritage conserves, researches and exhibits various cultural works, and Bulgari financed the organization’s recent restoration of two important Renaissance paintings: Paolo Veronese’s “Saint Jerome in the Desert” and “Saint Agatha Visited in Prison by Saint Peter.”
“Saint Jerome in the Desert,” Paolo Veronese, 1566
Veronese was a renowned Venetian painter of the 16th century, considered one of the three top Venetian artists of his time, along with Titian and Tintoretto.
He created large-scale religious scenes, elaborate in their saturated color and sheer number of figures depicted. Veronese’s paintings reside in a number of the world’s most famous museums, including the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The two paintings that Bulgari and Venetian Heritage restored were commissioned by Francesco degli Alberi, the abbot of the church of Saint Mary of the Angels in Murano, Italy.
Veronese completed the paintings in 1566 and the abbot hung them in a private chapel next to the church.
In 1667, the paintings were moved to the church upon the chapel’s removal and the elaborate gilded wood frames were created.
The paintings were moved again in the early 19th century, and by the time Venetian Heritage obtained them, the colors of the paintings were severely diminished and the frames greatly weathered.
Now that the paintings are restored, Bulgari and Venetian Heritage will present the works to the public, first at the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice on May 11 to coincide with the opening of the Venice Biennale art fair, and then at the Frick Collection in New York on Oct. 24.
Bulgari is publishing a catalogue detailing the paintings’ histories and restorations.
Bulgari Brand and Heritage Curator Lucia Boscaini explained that Italy, and in particular Rome, serves as a continual inspiration for the jewelry house.
“Bulgari’s designers, in fact, have always drawn from the art and architecture of Rome,” she said. “Their cultivated eye caught the beauty enclosed in the monuments’ magnitude, in square plants or in refined decorative details, and transferred them into creations that can today be recognized as quintessentially Bulgari.”
The jewelry house has long endeavored to support and maintain masterpieces of Italian culture.
It contributed to the restoration of Rome’s Spanish Steps and the floor mosaics of the Caracalla Baths. It also entirely supported the new lighting of the staircase in the Museum of Rome, to “better illuminate the splendid plasterwork that decorates the ceiling of this hidden architectural jewel,” Boscaini explained.
In 2008, Bulgari finished a year-long project restoring the Golden Staircase at the Ducal Palace in Venice.
“Bulgari has always chosen to fund cultural projects aiming to preserve and restore archeological and artistic treasures of the Eternal City and of Italy in general,” said Boscaini.
“All the projects aim to return the masterpieces to their former splendor as part of the world cultural heritage. With the patronage initiatives in Rome, in particular, Bulgari paid a tribute to a city that represents an unceasing source of inspiration, today as yesterday.”