Changing images: reciprocity between nineteenth-century paintings conservation and art history
Maartje Stols-Witlox (University of Amsterdam) 27/MSW1
Matthew Hayes, The Renaissance Restored. Paintings Conservation and the Birth of Modern Art History in nineteenth-century Europe, Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute, 2021, 208 pp., USD 65,00, ISBN 9781606066966 (paperback).
Abstract: Matthew Hayes’ volume examines the influence of nineteenth-century scholarship on the activities of contemporary paintings restorers, and, vice-versa, investigates how the visual effects of conservation treatments impacted contemporary scholarship. This reciprocal relationship is explored in four case studies, two situated in Italy (Giottesque frescoes and paintings by Titian), on in the United Kingdom (National Gallery London) and one in Germany (the Berlin museums). Hayes focuses on the treatment of paintings from the Renaissance, a period that knew strong interest from nineteenth-century scholars. He weaves together historical archival material (personal notes, correspondence, restoration records, historical photographs, etc.) and period texts (a.o. by Jacob Burckhardt, G.B. Cavalcaselle, Joseph Crowe), into a rich and accessible account, interspersed with examples of historical restoration treatments of well-known paintings and with restorer biographies. The resulting volume provides an entertaining and very accessible entry into the topic, whether the reader comes from (art) history or has a background in conservation.
Key words: conservation history, Italian Renaissance, art historiography, nineteenth century, Giotto, Titian, Charles Eastlake, Wilhelm Bode, Aloïs Hauser Jr., Jacob Burckhardt, G.B. Cavalcaselle, Joseph Crowe
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