The restoration of Luca Beltrami

As part of the 1897 restoration of the Castle, the Sala delle Asse had two windows restored. A few years later Luca Beltrami, enlisted the help of a prominent figure involved in the Renaissance restoration of the time, the painter and decorator Ernesto Rusca, in the complicated task restoring the room’s painted decorations, an enterprise made possible by the lawyer Pietro Volpi’s generous donation of 20.000 lire for the task in memory of his wife. As explained by Beltrami himself, Rusca reconstructed the decorative motif of a segment of the ceiling on the basis of the fragments and clues that were still visible, he then extended this to the entire 400 square metres of the ceiling using a thick tempera. The hall was thus filled with vivid colours.

The room that was inaugurated two times

During the inauguration, which took place on May 10, 1902 in the presence of Mayor Giuseppe Mussi, there was talk of having uncovered an "authentic Leonardo", claims that were fiercely refuted by a group of critics. On the basis of entries made by Marin Sanudo in his diaries, three commemorative plaques with the original inscriptions celebrating the adroit political manoeuverings of il Moro were repainted, while a fourth, probably already changed during French rule, was rewritten by Beltrami in honour of both the patron of the restoration and Rusca with the following words: IN MEMORY/OF ALESSANDRA VOLPI BASSANI/HER SPOUSE PIETRO/WISHES TO RESTORE/FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL PLAN/THIS BRILLIANT COMPOSITION/BY LEONARDO/YEAR MCMI/E RUSCA/P.

In the provisional 1902 mounting the walls of the room were covered with light coloured canvas hiding the monochrome portion considered by Beltrami to have been added during the Spanish era.

Some years later, amaranth wallpaper was applied, wooden benches were added to the walls and finally, an inlaid marble floor was laid down in the hall. Thus decorated, it was once again opened to the public on June 2, 1909. This arrangement was completed twenty years later with the addition of Mazzucotelli’s wrought iron lamps.