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Recovering Titian: The Cleaning and Restoration of Three Overlooked Canvas Paintings

Jill Dunkerton
Technical Bulletin Volume 34, 2013


Volume 34 of the National Gallery Technical Bulletin is dedicated to the evolution of Titian’s technique in the first part of his career, up to around 1540. In this article an account is given of the cleaning and restoration of three works: 'Portrait of Girolamo Fracastoro' and 'The Music Lesson', both in the National Gallery, and 'The Triumph of Love', Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. They have been largely ignored in the 20th-century art-historical literature on Titian, a common factor being the deterioration of their appearance as a result of heavily discoloured and degraded old restorations. Reconstruction of their conservation histories has given an understanding of how they came to be in such an altered condition, and goes some way towards explaining why they were generally overlooked as possible works by Titian. X-radiography and infrared reflectography have played a significant role in their rehabilitation, as has analysis of paint samples. In addition, these have informed the cleaning and treatment that has retrieved some of the original quality of the three paintings.


Titian, cleaning, restoration, canvas, stretcher, relining, X-radiograph, infrared reflectography, varnish, retouching

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Dunkerton, J., ‘Recovering Titian: The Cleaning and Restoration of Three Overlooked Canvas Paintings’, National Gallery Technical Bulletin Vol. 34, 2013, pp. 106–21.

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