A closer look at the National Gallery's conservation efforts

All together now for the relaunched Technical Bulletin

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After a gap of three years, during which the Scientific and Conservation Departments were involved in conceiving and mounting the three successful “Art in the Making” exhibitions, the National Gallery has relaunched its Technical Bulletin as an annual series. The bulletin is unique among national galleries of art and is highly regarded, drawing as it does on the long standing interdisciplinary tradition of London’s National Gallery. Articles written by the gallery’s curatorial, scientific and conservation staff in the latest volume (number 14) include an analysis of the underdrawing found in Raphael’s “Garvagh Madonna” during a study by infra-red reflectography, prompted by the examination of the recently identified “Madonna dei Garofani” by Raphael; an account of the history, conservation and painting technique of two of Canaletto’s Venetian scenes in the Gallery’s Collection, “The stonemason’s yard” and “The upper reaches of the Grand Canal with San Simeone Piccolo”; the results of the investigation and treatment of Laurent de la Hyre’s “Allegorical Figure of Grammar”, relating it to a second version in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore; and a discussion of the technique and perspective scheme in Bramantino’s recently restored “Adoration of the Magi”. A list of all National Gallery paintings cleaned and restored since the last issue of the Technical Bulletin in 1989 is presented in table form with analyses of pigments. A description of the computerised image-processing system created by the VASARI project, housed in the Gallery, is followed by an article on the fading of the pigment Prussian blue and the ability of VASARI to detect changes in the surface colour of paintings. Funding for VASARI (Visual Arts: System for Archiving and Retrieval of Images) commenced in 1989. Although recently wound up, one spin-off has been the in-house desk-top publication of the Technical Bulletin itself—the excellent colour illustrations have been printed from computer digitised colour images taken from high quality transparencies. The Bulletin’s new series editor is Ashok Roy, head of the Scientific Department; the publication was sponsored by Mr and Mrs Frank Richardson of New York. Volume14 is available at £14 (back issues at £12 each) from the National Gallery shops or by mail order from National Gallery Publications Ltd., 5/6 Pall Mall East, London SW1Y 5BA (tel: 071-839 8544).

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'All together now for the relaunched Technical Bulletin'

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