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Throne Room Restoration: Historical Artwork Uncovered

Monaco’s treasured Throne Room is undergoing major and careful restoration work and is currently closed to the public. A team of over 15 specialists are tirelessly working to restore the room to its original gilded glory. The State Apartments, which include the Throne Room, will reopen to the public on 2 April. Visitors will be able witness the restorers in action, who will continue to work until the end of July.

Symbolizing power and sovereignty, the highly ornate and historical Throne Room dates back to the 16th century. A place where Monaco’s Princes are sworn in, where HSH Prince Albert II and Charlene Wittstock celebrated their marriage, as well as Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly before them and Princess Charlotte and Pierre de Polignac in 1920.

Restoration work is long and difficult. In 2020, an impressive hidden fresco depicting Ulysses was uncovered on the Throne Room’s ceiling. Now, traces of paintings depicting the months of the zodiac have also been uncovered for the first time. Restorers are searching for traces that could indicate which artists created these works. In the Palace archives, a receipt for services rendered in 1547 to painter Nicolosio Granello, a disciple of Raphael, served as a clue.

Before restoring the paintings, the first step for workers was to restore the room’s masonry using traditional methods. Holes were filled in with lime, sand and marble powder. Then, using lasers, the frescoes were tediously cleaned, centimetre by centimetre. Pulsed light can distinguish the difference between dirt and paint, cleaning the fresco without toxic products. Afterwards, skilled artists will come in and fill in the sections of the paintings that have been chipped away by time.

Some of the Throne Room’s ceiling and frescoes were executed by Orazio de Ferrari, an Italian Baroque artist who was part of the family of Genoese artists. His frescoes depict the surrender of Alexander the Great. The throne room’s floors are made of Carrara marble.

The Princely Palace reopens
The Louis XIII room ceiling under restoration © Palais Princier de Monaco

Prince’s Throne is being dismantled and restored

The Empire-style throne, which dates back to 1881, is being dismantled and restored. Made of sculpted gilt-wood and topped by a gilt-framed crown, the throne is topped with a gold-embroidered velvet canopy. It features the Sovereign Family’s coat of arms and the motto “Deo Juvante” (Latin for “With God’s Help”).

Several sieges and wars took a heavy toll on Monaco’s fortress, which was badly damaged in 1505 and 1507. As a consequence, during the reign of Honore I (1522 –1581) the old fortress structures were transformed into the Palace as we know it today.

Two centuries later, the French Revolution significantly impacted the Palace. In January 1793, the Palace was looted and many Grimaldi objects were sold at auction. The State Apartments were turned into a military hospital for the Italian army and the throne room was used as a kitchen. In 1814 the Palace was returned to the Grimaldi family in terrible condition.

Prince Rainier III is credited with helping to restore much of the palace. That sense of duty was passed on the Prince Albert II, who continues to restore the palace’s important history.

The Princely Palace reopens
The Hercules gallery © Photo Geoffroy Moufflet
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