It colourfully depicts Apollo in his Chariot (after Guido Reni) and scenes of The Loves of the Gods (after Annibale Carracci) painted circa 1758 to 1761 by Giuseppe Mattia Borgnis.
The Ionic Temple painted ceiling hasn’t been looked at in detail for a long time. There are issues with white spotting on the surface of the painting, which doesn’t appear to be causing too much damage to the paint layer, but it is a concern. The painting looks slightly whiter than it should do because of this. There is some blanching and flaking of the surface which appear active, and which are generally caused by the environmental conditions – especially condensation. The ceiling is especially vulnerable as it contains a glue layer which attracts water. There is also some minor cracking of the plaster.
As a result of these concerns we need to make an accurate record of the present condition, and to identify and control the active deterioration factors. If any conservation is needed, then recommendations will be put forward and work carried out to ensure that the ceiling is in an optimum state.
Before the survey can start we will be packing away the items in the temple so that a scaffold tower can be erected within the room. It will mostly be the table (and everything on it) and the chairs that are cleared away – we will try and keep removal of objects to a minimum.
On Monday 22 February, the scaffolds will then be erected and a moveable scaffold tower will be placed inside the Ionic temple. There will also be a scaffold tower on the portico so that the hatch can be accessed in the ceiling under the portico.
Next we will welcome Tobit Curteis, painted surfaces conservator, on site to carry out a condition survey. This will consist of a photographic record, a report and recommendations for the future care of the painted ceiling, the roof space and the roof itself. During this time we welcome visitors to come inside the Temple and have a lookat the work in progress. The scaffold is likely to be in place for up to four weeks, to allow plenty of time to survey the ceiling in detail and complete any necessary work.
We’re very excited to get up close to the ceiling for the first time in many years, and hope to be able to identify, and then later, carry out any conservation work needed to keep the Ionic Temple looking beautiful for many years to come.