The restoration of this masterpiece has been supported by the Michelangelo Foundation with the aim of giving something back to Venice, the host city of Homo Faber.
• Ritratto di Marcello Durazzo dates from 1622-1627 during the painter’s time in Genoa
• Its restoration was carried out by Claudia Vittori in Venice and took four months
• The project forms part of several philanthropic ventures by the Michelangelo Foundation benefiting the city of Venice
Visitors to Homo Faber this September will be able to admire the beautiful masterpiece by Flemish artist Anthony Van Dyck, Ritratto di Marcello Durazzo, which has been stunningly restored thanks to Venetian Heritage in collaboration with the Michelangelo Foundation, Arthemisia and Marco Voena.
This great canvas, one of Van Dyck's most sophisticated works, represents the patrician Marcello Durazzo and partners another painting picturing his wife Caterina. Originally the pair of paintings was in the collection of the Durazzo family, one of the most important noble families in Genoa. The paintings were later separated: the portrait of Marcello was purchased by baron Giorgio Franchetti at the end of the 19th century, placed in the Ca' d'Oro and exhibited along with the masterpieces of the Galleria; while the portrait of Caterina remained initially in the family palace and then followed the fate of the furniture, which was acquired by the Savoy and transferred to the Royal Palace in Turin.
The painting dates from the period 1622 to 1627 when Van Dyck spent time in Genoa, where he made a substantial impression in Italian baroque painting. The portrait uses dark colours, following the Spanish-influenced fashion of the time, with sophisticated modulations of blacks and browns, which interact with the red curtain in the background, which in turns opens to reveal a view of the sky streaked by clouds, an evident homage to the Venetian pictorial tradition.
The painting showed the presence of widespread inconsistent glazing, overpainting, and inpainting carried out over the original surface. A line of filler, now removed, extended in the center for the entire length of the painting, creating a significant visual disturbance.
Most of the damage was probably caused by an intervention carried out before the painting was put up for sale on the antiquarian market. After that, the painting was subject to two restorations in the 1940s and 1970s, which failed to recreate the original colour tone.
Following its latest restoration, which took place from April to August 2018, the painting will be unveiled at Homo Faber in the Sale del Convitto within the Discovery and Rediscovery exhibit.
Speaking about the restoration, Alberto Cavalli, co-Executive Director of the Michelangelo Foundation, organiser of Homo Faber, said: “We have decided to join forces with Venetian Heritage to contribute to the restoration of this painting, because we are persuaded that we have to ‘give back’ to the territory of Venice. We did not want to create such a relevant event in Venice and then disappear; on the contrary, we wanted to be seen as a generative presence.”
“Moreover, we are a collaborative Foundation and we found in Venetian Heritage many common points: the preservation of artistic and cultural heritage, the importance of maintaining masterpieces thanks to the wise work of skilled restorers, and the meaningful partnership that can happen when like-minded institutions join forces.”
He adds: “The subject of this painting was particularly interesting for us: a nobleman wearing precious black velvet, an emblem of taste and wealth, of artisanal knowhow in dialogue with the evolution of taste.”
As part of its mission to ‘give back’ to Venice, the Michelangelo Foundation will also contribute for four years to the Fenice theatre’s Malibran project dedicated to young artisans. It is also supporting the exhibition dedicated to the young Tintoretto at the Gallerie dell'Accademia (opening September 7th), and is a donor of the Biennale.
Notes for editors
Crafting a more human future
Fondazione Giorgio Cini, San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
Free entry upon registration at homofaberevent.com
Homo Faber is the first major cultural exhibition dedicated to the very best in European craftsmanship. Organised by the Michelangelo Foundation, it aims to put fine craftsmanship on the global map and increase recognition and visibility for master artisans. The exhibition will bring together a vast range of materials and disciplines, from jewellery to bespoke bicycles, from the rarest artisanal techniques to some of the most iconic examples of the finest European workmanship. Created by a hand-picked team of world-class designers, curators and architects, the exhibition stretches over a number of magnificent spaces throughout the Fondazione Giorgio Cini. homofaberevent.com
The Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship is an international, non-profit institution based in Geneva, Switzerland, which celebrates and preserves master craftsmanship and strengthens its connection to the world of design. Rooted in a tradition of culture and excellence and in the realities and challenges of today’s global economy, the Foundation seeks to support men and women who dedicate themselves to the pursuit of master craftsmanship and to foster a new cultural movement built around the values that are essential for their work. The Foundation focuses on Europe as a starting point for its activities, in recognition that craftsmanship has been a vital part of the economic and cultural fabric of the region for centuries. michelangelofoundation.org
Venetian Heritage, an international non-profit organisation with offices in Venice and New York, supports cultural projects through conservation, exhibitions, publications, conferences, academic study and research. Its aim is to increase awareness of the immense legacy of Venetian art in Italy and in those areas once part of the Republic of Venice.