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Corsini al Parione Palace, Florence

Period of the monument: XVII century

Place: Historical center of Florence

Year of restoration: 2020

Category of works: OS2-A

Client: Private

Work performed: Cleaning consolidation and restoration of the stuccoes of the monumental staircase, cleaning and stone restoration of the statue of Pope Clemente XII.


Palazzo Corsini also known as al Parione, is one of the most opulent private palaces in Florence and is located on the Lungarno of the same name. The palace, in the panorama of traditional Florentine architecture, represented an absolute novelty in its fully baroque style and was the main palace of the Corsini family in Florence. Bartolomeo Corsini began the construction of a new palace in 1656, the work of several architects including Pierfrancesco Silvani, to whom is attributed the “u” shaped design and the unique helicoidal staircase, and Antonio Maria Ferri, most of whose work we see today: the three bodies articulated around a central courtyard, the monumental staircase, the facade on the Lungarno with the original empty space in the central part. However, the final completion of the work is not indicated until 1737. There are many interior rooms and halls rich in frescoes, decorations and original furnishings, ancient statues and busts of various artists of the eighteenth century. The second floor also houses the picture gallery known as the Corsini Gallery, the most important private art collection in Florence, with works by Filippo Lippi, Giovanni Bellini, Luca Signorelli (Madonna and Child between Saints Jerome and Bernard), Pontormo, Caravaggio (Portrait of Maffeo Barberini), Salvator Rosa, and Luca Giordano located on doors and windows. From the central courtyard you can access the spiral staircase by Silvani and the monumental staircase by Ferri.


The walls of the monumental staircase (walls, stucco, architectural stone elements, sculptures and ceilings) were carefully analyzed during the planning phase of the restoration. Stratigraphic tests revealed two layers of repainting on the original surface, of which the outermost (the visible and most recent one) presented a non-uniform grainy texture.

Removal of the overlying layers uncovered ancient fractures that were previously not visible or only partially visible. Some material losses were detected on the most protruding parts of the stuccoes, revealing under the mortar the supporting metal structure inside the figures.

The evident fracture on the dome, even after the removal of the layers of paint, was very solid to the structure. There were several stains of chromatic alteration which occurred as a result of old infiltrations. The moldings of the mirrors and the capitals were in a good state of preservation and on the whole the material losses are well contained.

The wall decoration, present in the false doors on the left side of the stairwell, presented a thin deposit of dust and incoherent dirt, which partly hid a thick repainting.

The cleaning intervention also involved the white marble sculpture representing Pope Clement XII, born Lorenzo Corsini. This was carved by Carlo Monaldi, a sculptor from Rome between the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century.


The removal of the scialbo (i.e. the overlapping layers of paint) was carried out from the bottom upwards, by means of the mechanical action of a scalpel. As revealed by the visual analysis, the original layer shows a very finished surface, smooth and treated externally with a thin layer of wax, which allowed an easy detachment of the scialbo. Most likely due to their location, the removal of the colors in the upper part of the decorative stucco system was easier than that of the lower part.

The careful superficial finishing, more accurate of the stuccoes in relief of the putti, coats of arms and festoons, allowed greater ease of the removal of the layers of repainting, bringing the material back to its original layer and also in some areas allowing the preservation of the slightly amber tone, conferred by the presence of natural wax applied as a final finish at the end of the realization of the artifacts. The work on the wall paintings was carried out according to a precise timetable:

  • Preparation and painting of windows
  • Plastering and integration of stucco and flat parts
  • Color lime plastering 
  • Color matching with lime glaze
  • Soap protection
  • Removal of surface deposits on stucco and flat surfaces
  • Stucco cleaning
  • Thinning/cleaning of glazes on flat surfaces
  • Pre-consolidation and material consolidation of stucco and flat surfaces





Palazzo Corsini al Parione, Florence

The cleaning tests revealed the presence of a thin deposit of dust and incoherent dirt, which partly concealed a thick repainting, in the wall decoration present in the false doors on the left side of the stairwell.

  • Layer n.3 corresponds to the currently visible decorated surface.
  • Layer n.2 corresponds to a first dry cleaning with wishab sponges.
  • Layer n.1 corresponds to the portion of the surface cleaned with a light compress action with Japanese carat soaked in water saturated with ammonium carbonate.
  • Layer n.0 corresponds to a further cleaning of the surface with a water pack, but with longer contact time compared to test n. 1, in fact the cleaning is more thorough.

Test of surface cleaning with ammonium carbonate compress on Japanese paper.

This type of cleaning allows us to remove the dirt but to maintain the average chromatic values that are provided by the dry repainting.


Palazzo Corsini al Parione, Florence

The sculpture representing Pope Clement XII, born Lorenzo Corsini, carved by Carlo Monaldi, a sculptor of Roman origin between the end of the 1600s and the beginning of the 1700s, was made in a single block of white marble. The surface has several finishes, in order to reproduce as faithfully as possible the texture of the textiles and decorative vestments and accessories that adorned the character reproduced, in the role he played.

Three stratigraphic tests were carried out on three different types of surface of the material, in order to test the solubility of the dust and dirt deposited and evaluate  its consistency with the stone material. Following numerous tests, the optimal solution was to clean the material exclusively with a pack of cellulose paste mixed with deionized water. The compress was left in contact for a variable time depending on the surface texture treated.

Clearly the coarse, rough material, worked with the gravina, presented a dirt that was more tenaciously anchored to its irregularities, while the dirt deposited on the smooth and compact surfaces was easily removed with the single application of the cotton swab soaked in deionized water.