Sep 15
Photo album dedicated to Antonio Kenda [Trieste, 27 April 1892] / ph. Duccio Zennaro

Restoration brings out beauty!

A second restoration campaign has recently been concluded, involving a large number of documents, especially from the 19th century, preserved by the Generali Historical Archives. These included 600 pieces covering photo albums, diplomas, print pamphlets, policies, registers, volumes of circulars and fire insurance plaques restored to their original look. Skilful hands have removed dust and mould, restored crumpled supports, recomposed shreds of yellowed paper and filled in gaps.

Diploma of Ermanno Gentilli [Vienna, 1902]

The result is a display of bright colours and splendid figures in Art Nouveau style, such as the feminine portrait oil-sketched on a golden leather cover decorating Antonio Kenda’s photographic album dedicated to him by his colleagues in the transport branch, or the silver winged victory on the cover of Ermanno Gentilli’s jubilee volume – commissioned by Erste Allgemeine in 1902 for his 25th career anniversary – in leather with precious stones and enamelled plaques with views of Vienna and Trieste, which are the work of Viennese goldsmith August Klein.

And then the black and white strokes on the diploma obtained at the 1884 Italian General Exposition in Turin which still convey the taste of the gold medal won by Assicurazioni Generali in Venice for their activity in the hail branch; these are echoed in the soft colours of the clusters on which Providence rests, decorating the Memoria dell’Anonima Grandine (Memory of the Hail Insurance Joint-Stock Company ) made for the Turin Exposition of 1898.

The political upheavals of 1848 resonate in the fire plaque with the double-headed eagle and the gold wording “Imp. R. Privil. Austro-Italiche Ass. Generali Venezia”, when the Habsburg emblem was subject to vandalism, so much so that it disappeared from wall signs and from the documentation produced by the Venetian Head Office and the Management eventually decided to remove the uncomfortable “Austro-Italiche” wording from the company’s name. These very words, however, are beautifully displayed in the heading of the oldest policy kept in the Archives: it is a life insurance policy of November 1832, with which a thoughtful father guaranteed his son the sum of six thousand Austrian lire on reaching the age of 25.

Fragile and elaborate art pieces on paper, work papers and archive gems have been restored to new life and are now available to all those who wish to admire them.