Project Description

Portrait of Marcello Durazzo by Antoon Van Dyck Restored by Venetian Heritage

Curated by Claudia Cremonini

Galleria Giorgio Franchetti alla Ca’ d’Oro, Venice
October – November 2018

Promoted by:
Ministero della Cultura – Direzione regionale Musei Veneto
Venetian Heritage

Funding:
Michelangelo Foundation
Venetian Heritage

The large canvas, one of the most refined portraits by the Flemish painter, serves as the pendant to a pair of paintings depicting the patrician Marcello Durazzo and his wife Caterina, from the Durazzo family collections, one of the most important noble families in Genoa. After various vicissitudes, the two canvases were separated: Marcello’s portrait, purchased by Baron Giorgio Franchetti at the end of the nineteenth century, was placed in the Ca’ d’Oro and exhibited among the masterpieces of the Gallery, while the portrait of his wife, initially remaining in the family-owned palace – the current Palazzo Reale in Genoa – shared the fate of the furnishings, which passed to the Savoy family.
The painting can be dated between 1621 and 1627, a period corresponding to Van Dyck’s stay in the Ligurian city, destined to leave a substantial imprint on Italian Baroque portraiture. A payment from 1624 seems to confirm its execution coinciding with the wedding of the Durazzo couple. The portrait is executed with dark colors, with refined modulations of blacks and browns that harmonize with the red curtain of the background, which, in turn, reveals a glimpse of a sky speckled with clouds, a clear homage to the Venetian painting tradition. The painting appeared with veils, inconsistent retouching, and widespread repaints executed over the original color. A central stucco, now removed, crossed the canvas for its entire length, creating a significant visual disturbance. The worst damage is probably attributable to an intervention carried out before the painting was put on the antique market. The artwork had undergone two restorations in the 1940s and 1970s, which, however, had not restored the correct visibility of the original tones to the painting.
The restoration was carried out by Claudia Vittori, under the direction of Claudia Cremonini, the museum director, and supported by Venetian Heritage in collaboration with the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship, Arthemisia, and Marco Voena.
The fabric of the exhibition panel, created for the repositioning of the artwork in the gallery, was provided by Rubelli. Taken from an original in the archives, it reproduces the surface effects, reinterpreting small wear and tear and gaps through effects created by precious metal textures, evoking the marks of time.