On November 4, 1966, both Florence and Venice were devastated by floods: Florence by the torrent of mud-laced waters from the Arno and Venice by an unequalled high water caused by heavy rains, wind and tides that put the city under more than 6 feet of fresh and salt water, stranding it for days. Now, as the 50th anniversary of the flood approaches, two American-based non-profits have joined forces to restore some of the countless damaged artworks still awaiting attention.
Each of the organizations will restore works by in the other’s city. Save Venice will restore 48 sketches by Venetian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1692–1770) housed in Florence’s Horne Museum, while Friends of Florence has pledged to restore the fourteenth-century The Virgin Mary on the Throne with Baby Jesus and Angels, a painting by the Maestro di Badia a Isola (active 1290–1320), a contemporary of the Sienese Duccio di Buoninsegna, in Venice’s Palazzo Cini Gallery.
In a press release, Frederick Ilchman, chairman of the board of directors of Save Venice, stated, “Save Venice was founded following the flood of 1966. Therefore it is important to commemorate the anniversary in the best way that we know: restoring cultural heritage. We are proud to have partnered with Friends of Florence and we hope that this collaboration emphasizes to all the urgency needed to preserve irreplaceable works in both Venice and Florence for future generations.”
In the same press statement, Simonetta Brandolini d’Adda, founder and president of the trustees of Friends of Florence, commented, “We are very happy to join forces with Save Venice … [which] has always been an inspiration for our mission…Our members are enthusiastic about the prospect of collaborating with Save Venice to preserve our shared cultural heritage.”
Save Venice Inc, based in New York with an office in Venice and chapters in Boston and California, has raised more than 25 million dollars to restore the art and architecture of Venice. The members of Friends of Florence, with offices in Florence and Washington, DC, are dedicated to preserving and enhancing the cultural and historical integrity of the arts in the city and surrounding area of Florence.