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Exhibition showcases newly-uncovered Renaissance paintings

Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) announces the results of two recent investigations of old master paintings in its collection: the discovery of an original 16th-century portrait of Isabella de’ Medici (1542–1576), hidden beneath Victorian-era overpainting; and the findings of a technical analysis of a portrait of Sir George Nevill, Lord Bergavenny, historically attributed to Hans Holbein the Younger.

Exhibition showcases newly-uncovered Renaissance paintings

Both paintings were examined for display in Faked, Forgotten, Found: Five Renaissance Paintings Investigated, a new exhibition which details the careful analysis, conservation, and outstanding questions surrounding selected works in the museum’s collection.

Exhibition showcases newly-uncovered Renaissance paintings
Restored to former splendour: Portrait of Isabella de’ Medici, c. 1570–1574, 
attributed to Allesandro Allori [Credit: Carnegie Museum of Art]
Through inspection of paint crack-lines, and later X-radiographs, conservators determined that the original portrait of Isabella de’ Medici had been creatively repainted, likely to suit 19th-century tastes. CMOA paintings conservator Ellen Baxter was able to successfully clean and restore the painting, revealing a portrait of much greater depth and personality.

Exhibition showcases newly-uncovered Renaissance paintings
Hans Holbein the Younger or workshop; Sir George Nevill, 
3rd Lord Bergavenny [Credit: Carnegie Museum of Art]
The museum was skeptical about the origins of the portrait of George Nevill, Lord Bergavenny (1469–1535), when new research began in 2013. CMOA undertook extensive provenance research, used infrared reflectography to reveal the underdrawing, and conducted elemental analysis of its ground and pigment layers. The results of these analyses, along with information from recently discovered documents describing the painting’s condition and restoration in the 1920s, suggest that CMOA owns a 16th-century painting that originated in the Holbein workshop. It will hang in Faked, Forgotten, Found in a partially cleaned state that allows visitors to see some of the heavily damaged original surface that had long been obscured by early 20th-century repaints.

Exhibition showcases newly-uncovered Renaissance paintings
Francesco Francia; Madonna and Child with Angel, 1495–1500 
[Credit: Carnegie Museum of Art]
Joining these two paintings are the museum’s now authenticated Madonna and Child with Angel by Francesco Francia, hanging alongside the London National Gallery’s known copy. In addition, the exhibition presents a work by Jan Rombouts the Elder, which for years had its own case of mistaken identity, and now finds itself the subject of still-unresolved Holocaust-era claims.

The detective work surrounding these paintings is presented through extensive multimedia documentation, highlighting a fascinating but little-seen aspect of museum practice. Taken together, the works in Faked, Forgotten, Found offer a behind-the-scenes look at the science of art preservation and restoration, as well as the winding paths that these works have followed to Pittsburgh.

Where: Heinz Gallery C, Carnegie Museum of Art
When: June 28, 2014 – September 15, 2014

Source: Carnegie Museum of Art [June 28, 2014]
TANN

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