EARTHQUAKE DAMAGES TO STAINED GLASS WINDOWS
According to the documentation compiled by the Sovrintendenza ai Beni Artistici e Storici di Torino on the occasion of the important restoration directed by Dr. Mesturino (1925-27) it was clear that the five apse stained glass windows were in an advanced state of deterioration,: "The stained glass windows had been rearranged during prior restorations, which were carried out without criterion, with the intrusion of pieces belonging to windows now lost." Dolino proposes to relate that intervention to the period 1733-36, when the vaults of the choir were repainted; or perhaps to 1827, when the Capitolo of the Collegiale enlarged and consolidated the tribuna to install a new organ.
Dolino’s comparison between photographs published in 1911 by Toesca and those taken in 1925 as preliminary documentation for the restoration reveals the existence, already before 1911, of gaps, fractures and figural disjointedness and incoherence; the comparison permits an identification of modest interventions carried out between 1911 and 1925. Therefore, one cannot exclude the possibility that the tremors caused by the earthquake of 1905 may have aggravated an already precarious static equilibrium.
"Restauri", 1922-32, fasc. N. 1391, X -1, by the Sovrintendenza ai Beni Artistici e Storici of Piedmonte.DOLINO, Le vetrate di S. Orso ad Aosta, Thesis, Università degli Studi di Torino, 1995-96.
The degraded state of the Cathedral’s stained glass windows is clearly seen; fractures and missing glass fragments are numerous; many panels are dangerously bowed and held by disjoint supporting elements. This state is ascribed mainly to the extensive tampering brought about by the structural modifications made to the building from the 17th to the 19th century. One cannot exclude the possibility that the tremors caused by the earthquake of 1905 may have aggravated a static equilibrium that was already precarious, compromised as it already was by the significant temperature range to which the windows were subject, inasmuch as they were not protected by isothermic panels.
The focused examination of the impressive documentary material culled by d’Andrade (designs, photographs, letters, notes), collected in the archives of Turin and Aosta, perhaps could furnish some useful elements for recognizing possible seismic damage.
A.A.V.V. Alfredo d’Andrade - Tutela e restauro, Firenze, 1981.
Soncino - [earthquake of 1802 (May 12)] Church of S. Giacomo
The violent earthquake caused serious damage to the vaults of the church of S. Giacomo. There is no report on the consequent fractures to the two large apse windows depicting the Angel of the Annunciation and the Virgin Annunziate; but Mongeri, in an inspection carried out in 1876, not long after the Bertini glaziers’ restoration, refers precisely to the conserved stated in which the restorers found the windows: obscured by deposits of dirt, the windows in fact had numerous visible fractures and gaps and an almost total disjointedness of the network of leads; besides, the lower panels of the two lancets, having lost their original glass, were glazed with "common glass of the most worthless type". In their restoration, the Bertinis preserved the few surviving figural episodes; and yet their filling out of the windows, done by re-utilizing fragments of old glass, appear quite extensive; signifying an extensive shattering of the windows that could be ascribed easily to the strong stresses exerted on the vaults of the church by the earthquake.
G. MONGERI Frate Ambrogino de’ Tormoli e le sue ventriere a Soncino, in "Arch. Storico Lombardo", 1877, pp. 614-20.
Bologna - [earthquake of 1779, June 4] Church of S. Petronio
The on-site inspection carried out by Salvanini  showed that the shocks sustained during the earthquake of 1799 had caused structural damage to the Church of S. Petronio: "two longitudinal cracks from the keystone of the crossing all along the length of the side-aisles causing the division of the the body of the church into three monoliths". There is no report on the damage sustained by the corpus of stained windows during that break-up; and indeed it could have set off progressive, though not immediately visible, damage and settling, to which probably are to be referred the extensive insertion of stopgaps carried out by C. Leoni in 1879. The recent assessment of the conserved state of the windows carried out by the Studio Fenice of Bologna, though focused on the extensive loss of grisaille in the window of the Notari, has also taken into consideration the other windows in the church revealing extensive structural damage suffered by all of the stained glass windows which has resulted in a loosening of the binding of the panels to the frame and the bulging of numerous windows because of the sagging of the network of leads. The sagging of the leads probably was brought about by the upsetting of the equilibrium of the building as as a result of the earthquake.
A. CORALLINI V. BERTUZZI Osservazioni dello stato di conservazione della vetrata del beato Giacomo da Ulma, fascicolo manoscritto, per gentile concessione degli autori.
A. CORALLINI V. BERTUZZI Il restauro delle vetrate, Firenze 1994, pp. 179-88.
Bologna - [earthquake of 1779, June 4] Church of S. Giovanni in Monte
The violent earthquake caused the falling of the pyramid and the iron cross installed above the facade; the cross, falling above the arch of the church door and on a staircase, damaged them. The sources do not mention damage suffered by the stained glass windows of the facade (the large round window depicting St. John the Evangelist and the two flanking lancet windows representing the Enthroned Madonna with Child and the Arms of the Gozzadini). But in the study drafted by M. Oretti there is noted a first intervention to the windows which, according to the author, was carried out "in the year 1783 before taking them down"; the mention of their removal allows one to suppose that their condition was already quite precarious; the two lateral windows, originally lancets composed of three panels, today appear seriously mutilated due to the loss of the two lower and upper panels.
That a successive conspicuous restoration occurred in 1824 is confirmed by an accurate reading of a report relative to the intervention. It is documented that at the Gozzadini auction (held in Bologna in 1906) fragments from the two lateral stained glass windows were sold; they evidently were not reinserted into the original context because they were in too poorly preserved. The condition of the large round window is in part deduced by the report drawn up by Rubbiani after his restoration: without taking down the window, Rubbiani corroborated the tangled web of leads which revealed dangerous bulging and inserted into the outer border, which had numerous gaps, many glass pieces that had been painted with cold paint. Given the extent of the deterioration of the three stained glass windows, it is plausible to attribute the damage encountered in the corpus of stained glass windows of S. Giovanni in Monte, at least in part, to seismic shocks.
M. ORETTI Le pitture nelle chiese di Bologna, Bologna Biblioteca Comunale dell’Archiginnasio, Ms. B 30, pp. 265, 314.
A. RUBBIANI Restauri alla vetrata dipinta della facciata, in "La chiesa di S. Giovanni in Monte di Bologna", Bologna, 1914, p. 11.
A. CORALLINI - V. BERTUZZI Il restauro delle vetrate, Firenze, 1994, pp. 171-78.
Florence - [earthquake of 1895, May 18] Church of S. Maria Novella
As revealed by the survey that was carried out, there was notable damage to the building: "the deepening of numerous pre-existing cracks: the side-aisles sustained immense damage such that their arches had to be re-enforced with keystones as well as the first two arches towards the facade. Also revealed was the detachment of arch lintels from the last vault of the central nave, the collapse of the terminal pinnacle of an external pilaster that, having fallen, damaged the roofing of the church". As always, damage to the stained glass windows is not considered in the reports, and there is no direct mention of earthquake damage to the corpus of windows; but the considerable restorations carried out by De Matteis indicate an immense deterioration of that corpus: documented, in fact, is the execution ex novo of the panel (evidently at that time too poorly preserved and irrecoverable) depicting the Nativity in the sacristy window of the church (see Firenze C. di S. Maria Novella 6) and re-leading; besides, extensive restorations are noticeable in the large apse (see Firenze C. di S. Maria Novella 3); Also the immense round window by Bonaiuto (see Firenze C. di S. Maria Novella 2), during the last restoration, showed an extensive loss of grisaille not to mention numerous substitutions and repainting with oil—peculiar to the nineteenth and early twentieth-century "restauri di completamento"; in particular, the head of Christ is a free re-elaboration based on the original traces of the design; Thompson’s on-going research (see Conservation – the atelier De Matteis) will permit a better understanding of De Matteis’ restoration.
Florence - [earthquake of 1895, May 18] Church of S. Croce
The complex of S. Croce sustained damage; in particular, according to the inspection made by architect Del Moro, the wall structure of the convent showed numerous and considerable breaks. As to the basilica, according to the survey carried out by the engineer Bassani, the damage noted predated the earthquake. The lengthy sequence of tampering and patching inflicted on the corpus of windows begins, in fact, already in the second half of the 16th century with the renovation carried out by Vasari, discussed in a letter sent by the Operai of S. Croce to Duke Cosimo I to justify the elimination of the dividing wall of the antique choir of the church. The sources do not mention damage sustained by the stained glass windows after Vasari’s interventions; but the condition of the corpus of windows in 1655 must have been anything but satisfactory since in that year G. B. Moreschini received more than 300 scudi to repair the roof and various unspecified stained glass windows. The napoleonic suppression of the convents aggravated the process of deterioration of the monumental complex, and presumably the general lack of care also had an effect on the corpus of windows.
The material and ideal rehabilitation of the monastic complex coincided with the long succession of proposals and competitions for the "Neo-gothic" completion of the facade of the basilica, considered the "temple of the Italians". As for the other facade, that of S. Maria del Fiore, the "completamento stilistico" carried out by N. Matas (1857-1863) assumed a precise semantic value laden with literary allusions. And it is in that atmosphere of neo-gothic renovation that, in 1869, U. De Matteis painted a Neo-gothic stained glass window for the Cappella Guicciardini [the window has been transferred to the Cappella Giugni]; in the same year, in completing the restoration of the cappella Spinelli, De Matteis executed another Neo-gothic stained glass window. The ex novo glazing came along with the commencement of the "restauro di completamento" of some of the original stained glass windows, as related by Mussini in 1870: "Beginning with the apse, I notice that the three magnificent stained glass windows which from the bottom, upwards about two and a half meters, was incomplete and had been completed with the most satisfactory workmanship". Those restorations, carried out by means of private financing, were limited and did not provide for the extreme state of deterioration of the entire corpus of stained glass windows.
It is plausible to assume that the damage sustained by the basilica during the earthquake of May 1895 had upset also the stained glass windows since during the years 1906-09, in a series of summaries appearing in "Arte e Storia" the monument’s terrible condition; above all the roof which by that time was at risk of falling, putting visitors to the basilica as risk; and the stained glass windows: "also the colored glasses and architectural parts of the large windows are falling"; and again (in 1907) an article mentioned "painted stained glass windows which are in many places broken, disintegrated, and falling". The piteous condition of the stained glass windows indicated by the series of articles convinced the municipality to begin a restoration of the corpus of glass windows; De Matteis, to whom the work was assigned, proceeded with a "stylistic restoration of completion", an impressive work which permits us to deduce the damage and terrible state of deterioration: the restorer completed the lower half of the three double-lancets of the apse, whose panels were by then lost or considered irrecoverable by the restorer. Thompson’s research on the atelier De Matteis (in press) could furnish more precise information about the state of deterioration that De Matteis was confronted with in the course of his restoration.
L. MUSSINI Les travaux de restauration de l’église de Santa Croce à Florence in " Scritti d’arte di Luigi Mussini, pittore ", Firenze, 1880
N. M. THOMPSON The fourteenth-century Stained Glass of Santa Croce in Florence, Indiana University, 1999.
Florence - [earthquake of 1895, May 18] Biblioteca Laurenziana
From an examination of the material at the Archivio Storico della Biblioteca Laurenziana (ASBL) emerges the fact that after the strong earthquake one of the exhibition halls, adjacent to Michelangelo’s library, was quite damaged; so much so that the then director of the library, Bartolomeo Podestà, requested on May 20, 1895 an accurate inspection of the building by the Prefect of the Province of Florence. Podestà also saw to the preparation of an written estimate of the necessary restorations which, however, did not mention the stained glass windows. Neither are the windows mentioned in a report drafted on November 26, 1895 by Guido Biagi, Podestà’s successor, on the earthquake’s damage and the consequent necessity of restorations (see ASBL, Amministrazione 1895, fasc. 20). However, as to the deteriorated state of the stained glass windows, a specific reference is made by Biagi on January 15, 1896 in a request directed to the regional Direzione dell’Ufficio for the conservation of monuments. In the request Biagi states the pressing need to provide for the restoration of some stained glass windows which "are in bad shape, nor can they hold up against the force of the wind" and states that in seeing to that restoration "it would be helpful for the glasses of two other windows, which were taken down when the Tribuna Delciana was constructed". According to the archival sources (ASBL, Amministrazione 1895, fasc. 29), the restoration, carried out by Natale Bruschi (February - March 1896), involved primarily only one stained glass window. Then, on July 6, 1899, following some work carried out on the heating system of the library, Biagi requested that the regional Direzione dell’Ufficio for the conservation of monuments intervene on behalf of the two window-openings, ‘closed’ when the Tribuna D’Elci was being realized, whose stained glass windows were still in the Library’s storage room. The work was carried out by Natale Bruschi and concluded by October of 1901. But an examination of the preserved state indicates that Bruschi’s restoration had, in reality, extended to all 26 of the Library’s stained glass windows, which show repairs, repainting, the use of original glass pieces culled from other windows of the same series which were re-utilized as stop-gaps, and an extensive web of mending leads. That leads us to suppose that the stained glass windows in the hall had all been subjected to the same stresses inflicted on their frames by the earthquake which caused the lengthening of pre-existing craters and plaster debris.
The actual preserved state of the Biblioteca Laurenziana’s corpus of stained glass windows shows an extensive web of mending leads used during the nineteenth-century which leads us to suppose that the library hall’s 27 windows were subject to the same stess and vibration during the earthquake.
Pisa - [earthquake of 1846, August 14]
The stained glass windows of Pisa’s cathedral complex were subject, over the course of the centuries, to a long, laborious succession of tampering and damage; in primis, the fire of 1595 that devastated the Cathedral, causing the loss of many works of art among which also numerous stained glass windows; the collapse of the roof caused an abrupt drop in temperature and the consequent fracturing of the glass pieces. Burnam’s comprehensive study of the surviving stained glass windows in the Cathedral has confirmed a restoration carried out by Ulisse De Matteis on window s X Abraham and the Three Visitors and the Sacrifice of Isaac (see Pisa Cattedrale 1) and extended also to the glazing ex novo of a window for the apse clerestory (1907, S. Giuseppe col bambino, N1II). To all of the windows a black cold paint (?) was applied (undocumented).
Given the immense damage shown by Burnam to have been sustained by the stained glass windows over the centuries, one cannot exclude the possibility that the earthquake of 1846, which fell between the restoration conducted by C. Cecchini (1929-30) and that carried out by De Matteis (1897) may have aggravated the Pisan windows’ already precarious deteriorated condition.
R. K. BURNAM Le vetrate del Duomo di Pisa, CVMA Italia II, Pisa, Scuola Normale Superiore, in press.
Siena - [earthquake of 1697, September 20]
A reconstruction of the events that affected Siena Cathedral’s stained glass windows over the centuries is uncertain and difficult to formulate. As to the large apse round window (see Siena Cattedrale 1), well-documented is Giulio Francesco Agazzini’s restoration which was concluded in June of 1697, that is, only a few months before the violent earthquake that caused serious damage to several builduings. In the notes left by Andreini it is specified "Afterwards gilding was applied to the angels, the heads of seraphim and fruit around the round window above the big altar and the same round window, which fell, shattering to pieces, was also restored with glass pieces, and afterwards, put together with white glass pieces in a way that the colored pieces would fit, it was made anew with iron fittings and bronze mesh grates which were not there before". It was a diligent and precautionary intervention that has preserved the structure of the celebrated rose window, protecting it from successive structural collapse. Not only that, the re-installment of the window in the opening above the apse must have made use of the immense scaffolding raised in 1698 in the tribuna to decorate the vaults in that year; in that case the re-mounting of the rose window was delayed with respect to the seismic event, which would have preserved the window from damage.
E. CARLI Vetrata duccesca, Milano, 1956.
Concerning the actual condition of the window, which has been removed and in the process of restoration, see:
C. TAROZZI Considerations relating to the large wooden supporting Frame of the Duccio di Boninsegna Stained Glass Window in Siena Cathedral in "New Letter", 47, June 2000, pp. 18-20.
Assisi - [earthquake of 1831, October 27] Basilica of S. Francesco
The artistic literature tells of damage inflicted on the stained glass windows of the basilica of S. Francesco by the earthquakes of 1789 and 1822.
With respect to the shocks of the 1831 earthquake, which damaged a large part of Assisi’s buildings, in the Basilica of S. Francesco, there has been found,, in the second half of the central nave, an old keystone placed to mend a deep fissure, probably, in fact, occurring after this earthquake.
Assisi - [earthquake of 1984, April 29]
Damage to the stained glass corpus was not recordedAssisi - [earthquake of 1997, September 26]
After this serious quake, the Soprintendenza BAAAS of Umbria opened up a series of workshops for emergency intervention. The report made by C. Centroni showed how the tremor caused a deep crisis for the whole structural system of the building complex of the sacred Convent and Basilica. More than ten workshops were opened to handle the necessary work of consolidating the various structures of the Basilica, the reconstruction of the stone vaults that had fallen in the quake, not to mention the improvement, generally, of seismic considerations for the architecture. As to the stained glass corpus of the Basilica Superiore, an immense, multi-story scaffolding erected in the basilica permitted an up-close examination of the stained glass windows. The damage analysis, carried out by the CVMA - Italia (in conjunction with the Istituto Centrale del Restauro and the Bayerisches Landesamt fur Denkmalpflege), revealed the upsetting and bulging of numerous panels on the south side whose installation is rigidly reinforced by a sealant of cement or hard, non-flexible material. In particular, most of double-lancet s VI had come out of its window frame. Various fractures, newly made, were noted in the glass pieces of the south side. Besides, in many panels the already advanced loss of grisaille was aggravated. Concurrent with the work of restoring the wall structure, an on-site consolidation of the windows’ installation system and a gluing of the fractures was carried out.
Perugia - [earthquake of 1854, February 12] Church of S. Domenico
The existing church has sustained damage and numerous transformations: in April of 1614, according to a local chronicler, during the restoration of the roof, both the roof and the vault fell "leaving only the choir in tact and the chapels of the crossing broken through". In 1625 Maderno, sent by the Pope to renovate the church, reconstructed it with massive forms, considerably lowering the height of the vaults. The violent earthquake caused a heavy cornice to fall and the convent suffered significant damage. In 1857 the huge stained glass window was in a worrisome state of deterioration, such that Pope Pio IX wanted to transfer it to Rome to be restored; for unspecified reasons the windows was not restored, and it was brought back to Perugia in the same state in which it had left. Gigliardi stated that it was not possible to ascertain whether the window’s condition was partly caused by the shocks of the quake. The restoration was not carried out until the years 1867-79 by Francesco Moretti (see Perugia Studio Moretti Caselli and Conservazione/the Studio Moretti Caselli). The amount of the window "completed" in the restoration attests to the extensiveness of its losses.
Perugia - [earthquake of 1984, April 29]
The earthquake of 1984 caused the falling of a beam and parts of the roofing which had for some time been in precarious condition.
In 1956 the large window was consolidated; according to the project report drawn up by engineer Sisto Mastrodicasa "The consolidation will be realized with horizontal complanate pairs of symmetrical, funicular cables with respect to the middle level of the pilasters of the large window, pairs that will be wisely distributed to the various heights….Connecting elements, spread across each pilaster, will work together with the screws at the extreme ends of the cables, to place moderate tension on the cables themselves…when there is exertion by the wind or other horizontal natural phenomenon the columns themselves with have the help of one or another of the cables."
On the occasion of the 1988 conference the problem of the deteriorated state of the apse stained glass window and the stone frame was posed. The presentation made by G. Tosti showed how the consolidation technique adopted by Mastrodicasa has shown itself to be effective and how it is to that system that is owed the preservation of the window. Worrisome, notes Tosti, is the condition of the stone material: above all, the central pilaster made of stone cones is found to be notably crumbling and showing a permanent deformation that is inflected toward the interior. Besides, the masonry of the large window, also stone, is subject to a dangerous lateral slipping and therefore requires consolidation. Finally, the material used in the 1956 restoration is in a worrisome state of deterioration. Abbozzo reveals damage done to panels by the great stress that the central pilaster has been subject to over time and the falling of stone pieces. There is no report on the settling caused by the earthquake tremors.
With regard to the earthquake of 9-26-1997, which caused serious damage to the Upper Basilica of Assisi, detailed descriptions of the consequential effects is not yet available from the SGA of Bologna. Nevertheless, direct and close-up examination of the immense apse window, done by means of the scaffolding used for its removal (for its next restoration), has permitted us to confirm the window’s stresses which was already pointed out in the conference of 1988; but the window showed no other damage and its installation system, made during the restoration of 1956, has resisted seismic movements. Knowing, however, the still worrisome unstable condition of the stone system, the window has been removed in preparation for its restoration.
G. MARCHINI Le vetrate dell’Umbria CVMA Italia vol. I, Roma, 1973, pp. 197-209.
G. TOSTI La monumentale vetrata di S. Domenico di Perugia e l’intervento di consolidamento di Sisto Mastrodicasa. Un caso esemplare di restauro del restauro in "Atti del convegno Il complesso di S. Domenico di Perugia" Perugia, ott. 1995, pp. 36-41.
F. ABBOZZO Mariotto di Nardo e Bartolomeo di Pietro: La vetrata absidale di S. Domenico 1411. Storia e conservazione. Ibid. pp. 63-66
G. GIUBBINI - R. SANTOLAMANZA La carta, il fuoco, il vetro Lo Studio-laboratorio Moretti-Caselli attraverso i documenti, I disegni e le vetrate artistiche, Perugia, 2001.