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Genesis of Camillo Boito's theory of restoration

Marko Špikić   ORCID icon ; Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Department for Art History, zagreb, Croatia

Puni tekst: hrvatski, pdf (2 MB) str. 63-71 preuzimanja: 432* citiraj
APA 6th Edition
Špikić, M. (2010). Nastanak teorije restauriranja Camilla Boita. Portal, (1.), 63-71. Preuzeto s
MLA 8th Edition
Špikić, Marko. "Nastanak teorije restauriranja Camilla Boita." Portal, vol. , br. 1., 2010, str. 63-71. Citirano 28.05.2020.
Chicago 17th Edition
Špikić, Marko. "Nastanak teorije restauriranja Camilla Boita." Portal , br. 1. (2010): 63-71.
Špikić, M. (2010). 'Nastanak teorije restauriranja Camilla Boita', Portal, (1.), str. 63-71. Preuzeto s: (Datum pristupa: 28.05.2020.)
Špikić M. Nastanak teorije restauriranja Camilla Boita. Portal [Internet]. 2010 [pristupljeno 28.05.2020.];(1.):63-71. Dostupno na:
M. Špikić, "Nastanak teorije restauriranja Camilla Boita", Portal, vol., br. 1., str. 63-71, 2010. [Online]. Dostupno na: [Citirano: 28.05.2020.]

The article considers the origin of a theory of restoration by the Italian architect, restorer, critic, scholar and professor, Camillo Boito (1836–1914). The texts mentioned here were published in the journal Nuova antologia between 1871 and 1883. They encompass various topics ranging from a discourse on the integration of the Florentine cathedral façade in 1871 and the problem of the emergence of a national architectural idiom in 1872 to the initial appreciation of varieties as values within Italian cities (with the example of Verona) in 1873. The author points out the importance of the shifts in perception of cultural heritage in Europe occurring during the 1880s, which could have influenced Boito’s understanding of restoration interventions, alternatively of his conception of the „third way“ in conservation-restoration theory in between Viollet-le-Duc and Ruskin. Although, in the text on the façade of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence in 1871, Boito doesn’t deny the need to have it integrated, it is here that he becomes cautious, stressing that one of the key arguments of European style restorers (integration by way of analogy) was inadequate if applied to Italian monuments. Although he then warned of the danger of uncritical concern with imaginative reconstruction, which he deemed absurd, he had already, in 1873, on the occasion of his tour of the Universal Exhibition in Vienna, admired style restorers such as Viollet-le-Duc, Boeswillwald, Revoil, Verdier and Ruprich-Robert, labelling them „the paragons of perfect measure and ingenious restoration“.
A watershed in Boito’s concept of the monument is reached in a text from 1879 about the restoration of St Mark’s in Venice. Not only does Boito more openly accept
arguments such as those proposed by Ruskin since the 1840s, but he seems to have changed his tone under the influence of Ruskin’s English followers from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (in particular William Morris). This article shows how patriotism slowly gives way to caution, so that Boito, in the second part, allows himself to criticize Venetian restorers counselling discretion (spirito discreto) in their interventions, while he ends up denouncing the sluggishness and inefficiency of the state administration in charge of cultural heritage.
At about the same time, John Ruskin, Alvise Piero Zorzi and Tito Vespasiano Paravicini, with their studies, correspondence and public pronouncements, helped to lay the foundation for Boito’s theory. Boito, who for years reported in Nuova antologia on visual arts, competitions, exhibitions and projects, began in 1879 to discourse on the concepts such as the „surface of the monument“ (superfcie) , its „primary skin“ (pelle di prima), „bark“ (la buccia) and the creation of a „new facsimile“ (nuovo fac-simile). The article also registers Boito’s activism, specifically, his unwillingness to back up Ruskin’s „passive“ stance with regard to the monument’s fate, even though he aligns himself with the restorer Giambattista Meduna, whose work gave rise to international polemics.
Beginning in the 1880s, when he restored the Gussoni-Franchetti palace on the Venetian Canal Grande, Boito began to work out his theoretical concepts. When writing in 1880 about closing works on the façade of the Florentine cathedral under the supervision of architect Emilio de Fabris, he used a number of historical sources, thus anticipating the arguments of his pupil Luca Beltrami in the framework of the paradigm of restauro storico. On the other hand, his text about the competition for the monument to Victor Emanuel II at the Roman Campidoglio in 1882 obliquely raised the question of intervening in an ancient ambience, begun when Via Nazionale was built after the conquest of Rome in 1870. The article concludes with a charter of restoration that was, on Boito’s prompting, drafted by Italian architects and engineers at their third congress in Rome in 1883. The charter, in six points, could be considered one of the earliest documents of the modern theory of restoration. The author contends that the document brought something along the lines of the
SPAB Manifesto in 1877 with respect to Ruskin’s ideas: public reception. Thus in 1883 Boito’s concepts received public recognition and a codification followed by their elaboration.

Ključne riječi
Camillo Boito; theory of restoration; Kingdom of Italy; Venice; William Morris

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