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Restoration of the Bernardo Bellotto’s Painting "View of Pirna from the Right Bank of the Elbе above the Town"

This painting belongs to a series of views of Dresden and nearby Pirna that were created between 1747 and 1755 to a commission from Count Heinrich von Brühl, minister to the court of the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, Augustus III. This canvas is the last work by Bernardo Bellotto (1720–1780) in the State Hermitage that has not been cleaned of old varnish and later overpainting. The picture came into the Hermitage collection in 1920 from the Gatchina palace.

  • General view of the painting before restoration under direct lighting
  • General view of the painting before restoration with lighting from the side
  • Detail of the painting before restoration
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Inspection revealed stiff deformations of the support around the entire perimeter of the canvas – dilapidated selvage on the original fabric with multiple tears. Numerous minor losses of the paint layer were identified, as well as two old patches along the lower edge. Numerous areas of later restoration overpainting and abrasions of the strongly yellowed varnish, which covers the painting unevenly with runs, together with the general surface soiling of the painting hinder the appreciation of this work of art and call for immediate restoration work.

The project envisages carrying out the following types of work:

  • drawing up restoration documentation
  • photographing the exhibit at all stages of the restoration process
  • physical and chemical examination
  • reinforcement of the paint layer across the entire surface
  • removal of the surface soiling
  • removal of the restoration selvage and patches
  • elimination of deformations
  • lining with a new canvas
  • stretching the canvas on a subframe
  • applying restoration primer in places where the paint layer has been lost
  • regeneration of the varnish
  • reducing the thickness of the old varnish and removal of later restoration overpainting
  • repeat regeneration of the varnish
  • coating the painting with varnish
  • making good the losses (tinting)

A working group for the restoration of the painting has been formed from members of the Hermitage staff:

scholarly supervisor – Irina Artemyeva, leading researcher in the Department of Western European Fine Art

project co-ordinator – Evgeny Fedorov, head of the Project Finance Sector of the Development Service

project curator – Victor Korobov, head of the Laboratory for the Scientific Restoration of Easel Paintings

artist-restorers – Sergei Kiselev, Liubov Semionova

To support the project please contact Fedorov Evgeny at projects@hermitage.ru.