The restoration work of the Prince’s Palace which has been going on since 2015 has been completed. Renovated historic rooms, stunning Italian Renaissance frescoes, works of art previously unknown to the public at large, and a golden sculpture of Prince Albert II can all be seen during excursions around the Palace this summer.
Surprising discoveries of Monegasque restorers
Chance sometimes plays marvelous tricks on us… Thanks to an imposing restoration project initiated in 2015 by H.S.H. Prince Albert II, a fabulous set of Italian Renaissance frescoes was discovered. This authentic soap opera with its twists and turns lasted about two years ever since the renovation of the facades bordering the Cour d’Honneur in 2013. Perched on a scaffolding, experts in decorative heritage reached the height of the Hercules gallery’s ceiling. Somehow they had an intuition that a special venerable decor had been hidden under the layers of century-old paint. Having scraped off the varnish with a scalpel, the painters have magically brought out bold and pure colours announcing the frescoes of the Italian Renaissance.
From then on, the quest was pursued across various Princely rooms and salons where historic decorations were patiently waiting to be finally revealed. We were in for quite a few surprises. The centrepiece of the Europe salon now reveals a medallion representing Europa kidnapped by Jupiter in the guise of a bull. The Throne room had another rare scene discovered by the investigative painters: the meeting between Odysseus and the shadow of the seer Tiresias in the kingdom of the dead on the road to Ithaca. The Green antechamber is all brightened up with grotesque figurines, both whimsical and satirical ornamental imagery. All in all, some 600 square metres of frescoes constituting an exceptional heritage.
Remarkable items in the Princely quarters
The Princely Quarters (Grand Apartments) have been refurbished and enriched by an unprecedented number of paintings from the historic Princely collections. The “old quarter” (the Blue room, the History study and the Officers’ room) reveals portraits of young princes made in the 18th century by Pierre Gobert, views of Venice and Monaco and a remarkable chest of drawers signed by Pietro Piffetti.
The visit to the Royal antechamber is particularly moving. This is where Prince Rainier III first received actress Grace Kelly on May 6th, 1955, who was then to become Princess Grace. Picture rails feature German school 17th–18th century portraits and genre scenes belonging to Prince Jacques I.
The Royal Palace York chamber still guards a memory of high drama. In 1767 Prince Edward, brother of King George III, the Duke of York, took his last breath in here after having been transported to the palace for medical treatment while cruising off Monaco.
The refinement of the study and the Valence room with its “La toilette de Vénus” by François Lemoyne and a painting by Louis-Jean François Lagrenée, are other rare jewels of the Palace.
Last but not least, comes a visit to the Princely gallery with its set of sculpted busts and portraits of the Grimaldi dynasty. A work by a contemporary American artist Barry X Ball features H.S.H. Prince Albert II all made in gold. A culminating point indeed of this magical journey!