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News Finding hidden details in a Tiepolo masterpiece

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​Sarah Gowen Murray does restoration work on Giovanni Battista Tiepolo's Bacchus and Ariadne (circa 1743–45). Photo courtesy of the National Gallery of Art.

​Conservation of the centuries-old painting required ten years of work from the NGA's conservation team, including WUDPAC alumna Sarah Gowen Murray. From the artnet News article by Sarah Cascone:

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, is unveiling the fruits of four years of labor on a work by Venetian Old Master Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696–1770). The seven-foot-tall painting, titled Bacchus and Ariadne (circa 1743–45), required extensive restoration, which uncovered previously hidden details: an architectural border framing the scene and tall bundles of leaves the artist originally depicted wrapped in gold-leaf ribbon.

Teaming up with the museum’s curatorial, conservation, and scientific research staff, painting conservator Sarah Gowen Murray worked tirelessly to restore these lost elements and to repair the extensive damage suffered by the canvas over the centuries. “Before it was treated, it was apparent that it had been heavily over-painted, and it was not representative of Tiepolo’s work,” she told artnet News. “The restoration is much more in line with Tiepolo’s original intention for the work.”

The painting is thought to be one of four works representing the four elements created by the artist for an unknown Venetian palazzo. It has not been publicly exhibited since 1981.

“The paintings would have been installed in a villa, and the architecture that’s in the painting would have integrated the piece within the architectural setting of the building,” Gowan Murray said. “When the painting was removed, those architectural elements didn’t really compositionally make sense anymore, so somebody decided to paint them out.”


To learn more about the painting and treatment, visit the artnet News site here.
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Conservation of the centuries-old painting required ten years of work from the NGA's conservation team, including WUDPAC alumna Sarah Gowen Murray.

​Conservation of the centuries-old painting required ten years of work from the NGA's conservation team, including WUDPAC alumna Sarah Gowen Murray.

5/27/2018
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  • The Department of Art Conservation
  • 303 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-3489
  • art-conservation@udel.edu