The Wallace Collection museum in London plans to fix and explore all 28 Venice landscape paintings from its collection by 2020.
The vedute room in the London’s Wallace Collection is a real window in Venice of the time of the aristocratic Grand rounds. Generously filled with views of the city on the water, created by Francesco Lazzaro Guardi, Giovanni Antonio Canal (Canaletto) and his followers, this famous art gallery, according to the curator Lelia Packer, “reflects the Franco-British taste of our founders,” that is, the Hertford family.
However, over time, the shining blue of the sky and the lagoon on the canvas art works faded under a layer of dirty varnish. “Sometimes it’s just one layer, and sometimes a few,” says Packer, adding that in the past the varnish was made to apply in order to give richness to the colors. As part of a multi-stage restoration project called “Two Views of Venice,” by 2020 it is planned to fix and examine all 28 Venice landscape paintings from the Wallace Collection.
The Museum does not have its own restoration workshop, so the artworks are sent in groups to the Hamilton Kerr Institute, which is part of the Fitzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge. Most of the paintings have not been cleaned since the XVIII-XIX centuries. According to Packer, Cambridge experts first study the art pieces by x-ray and infrared reflectography to get a clearer picture of how they were painted. It is possible that through this study the experts will be able to establish the authorship of some anonymous works.
For now, the institute staff managed to clear two Venice landscape paintings by Canaletto depicting the Piazza San Marco, seven scenes written by the painter’s followers, and three capriccio paintings created by Guardi, and it is still easy to distinguish Venice in these fantastic landscapes.
Now the Wallace Collection museum is raising funds for the next phase of the project, the total cost of which is £250,000. It has launched a crowdfunding campaign, the primary task of which is to collect £17,500 for the restoration of paintings of the Doge’s Palace (1740-1745) written by Canaletto.
According to Lelia Packer, the restoration of Venice landscape paintings aims to present the most beloved part of the Museum collection in the best possible way. “These are great pictures. I think that after fixing them, our visitors will be even more pleasant to admire them.”