Restoration of Ten Commandments Plaque, Ferrara, 1779

DECEMBER 2012 – JANUARY 2013

Decorative Plaque above the Torah Ark,

Carved and gilded wood, and stucco. Script: gilded metal letters

Ferrara, Italian Synagogue, 1779 ON 0454

 

These four plaques designed in the Rococo style contain an inscription of the Ten Commandments. The plaques were originally placed at the top of the monumental TorahArk in the Italian Synagogue of Ferrara, as can be seen in old black and white photographs from the Museum’s Archive.

The Ten Commandments are carved on four boards with floral decorations. All the carved motifs are gilded, while the boards are covered in light grey paint and the metal letters of the commandments are glued onto the boards.

 

Conservation Project

The aim of this conservation project was firstly to stabilize the boards which were not structurally sound, and to repair the many cracks which had appeared in the wood.

Once stable, the gold was cleaned and the non-original paint was removed.  The damaged gold leaf was reconstructed, while the fake gold paint that covered other areas was totally removed, restoring the underlying original ochre colour.

It appears that the present light grey colour was not original, neither were the metal letters. During the cleaning process we discovered the layer with the original written letters and invited a scribe to restore the original script.