Emergency restoration - salle des Vélins at Richelieu
The salle des Vélins, belonging to the Department of Maps and Plans of the Nationa Library of France, kept the leather portfolios of the Anville fund and the most precious portulans of the department, houses a painted ceiling from the painted decorations of the former Hôtel Mazarin, reassembled by Roux -Spitz almost in the same place following a process identical to that adopted for Mazarin's bedroom.
The Vélins ceiling is one of the works classified as historical monuments, and has not been restored as part of the recent restructuring operation. It was protected during the works by a plastic film.
The decoration of the ceiling is an integral part of the decorative program introduced by Mazarin for his palace between 1600 and 1650 in parallel with the creation of the Mazarin gallery. The central painting made around 1646-1648 is attributed to the school of Simon Vouet.
The eight small format compositions (representing cherubs holding the cardinal's attributes and four allegorical figures) frame the three main compositions:
In the center, Peace (cf. the olive branch that the female figure holds in her hand) is being crowned by Victory. La Paix touches a Roman fasces (one of Mazarin's attributes) with his foot, while two cherubs ward off the harpies. This set symbolizes the victory of France (and therefore of the cardinal) over its enemies.
On either side, two other compositions representing one Abundance (on the left), the other Public Felicity (on the right) further underline the good government of Cardinal Mazarin.
If the side compositions are probably the work of Simon Vouet's studio, the stylistic characteristics and the pictorial finesse of the central composition strongly suggest that it is by the master's own hand.
After the completion of the work in the Hotel Tubeuf, in September 2022, damage was observed on this ceiling (loss of substance, cracks, opacifying alteration of the varnish evoking a degradation of the type chanci).
A diagnosis was requested from the Mariotti workshop for the decorations and from Alix Laveau, restorer at the Mazarin gallery. The chief architect of historical monuments, Michel Trubert has been contacted.
Help us save this historical treasure by supporting this emergency restoration.
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