Water Problems Persist at the Scrovegni Chapel

In the spring of 2002, ArtWatch made the following forecast, as the restoration of Giotto’s Scrovegni chapel frescoes in Padua came to a close:

This past winter has been a dry one, but when the rains come as they usually do, one can again expect that the subterranean water condition will continue to be the major threat to Giotto’s frescoes, despite all of this recent intervention.

The reality is that the ongoing water problems at the site, due to an extremely high water table beneath the chapel, has resulted in the frequent presence of several feet of water at any given time in the crypt. This recent photograph reveals that these issues — which should have been adequately addressed prior to any intervention on the frescoes themselves — still continue to threaten Giotto’s work. Since they restored Giotto’s frescoes without taking any action regarding the underground situation, there must now be serious consideration on the part of Paduan officials as to what will be done to protect the chapel.

February 2004