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Titian's 'Bacchus and Ariadne'

Arthur Lucas and Joyce Plesters
Technical Bulletin Volume 2, 1978


An account of the cleaning and restoration of Titian's Bacchus and Ariadne carried out between 19679. An outline of the early history of the picture is included as well as a summary of the picture's history of restoration, taken from various documentary and published sources. A preliminary examination suggested that earlier paint losses were mainly confined to the sky and that, individually, they were small. Following removal of discoloured varnish and reattachment of loose paint, the picture was faced.

The removal of a lining canvas, its adhesive and the residues of an earlier lining adhesive from the back of the original canvas revealed a very thin gesso ground on the back of the original canvas bearing drawings and inscriptions, which though faint could be seen more clearly by infrared photography. It was thought that these were executed by studio assistants of Titian. The canvas was stuck down onto a nonwarping rigid support.

All main elements of the painting receive separate technical discussion. Mention is made of the lavish use of expensive, natural ultramarine and the use of such colourful pigments at full strength, together with the intensification of colour in some areas by the use of glazing pigments. Photomicrographs of paint sections, details, cleaning tests, X-ray and infrared mosaics appear throughout the text.


cleaning, facing (process), gesso, paintings, pigments, Titian

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Titian's 'Bacchus and Ariadne', Arthur Lucas and Joyce Plesters (PDF 23.74MB)

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Lucas, A., Plesters, J. 'Titian's "Bacchus and Ariadne"'. National Gallery Technical Bulletin Vol 2, pp 25–47.

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