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Masterpiece London reaps what it has sowed; conserved painting unveiled at the Wallace Collection
Jacob Jordaens, An Allegory of Fruitfulness, 1620-29.
LONDON.- This week the newly conserved An Allegory of Fruitfulness by Flemish master Jacob Jordaens was unveiled in the recently refurbished East Drawing Room of the Wallace Collection. The painting has been conserved using funds raised by the philanthropic arm of the prestigious art fair Masterpiece London, which was held at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in June 2012.

Philip Hewat-Jaboor, Chairman of Masterpiece, said ‘We are delighted that Masterpiece London has been able to contribute to the conservation of this stunning and important work whose unveiling serendipitously coincides with Harvest Festival Week.’

For the second year running, Masterpiece London held a Curators’ Dinner to raise money for the Wallace Collection with the aim of demonstrating the fair’s commitment to education and culture. The 2012 dinner attracted several well-respected curators including Tim Knox, Director of the Sir John Soane Museum, and Steven Harrison, the curator of Decorative Art and Design at Cleveland Museum of Art and of course Dr Christoph Vogtherr, Director of the Wallace Collection.

At Masterpiece London, the Wallace Collection held a symposium, given by curators drawing on the extensive works of the Collection, on highlights from great collections, including nineteenth-century collecting trends; European treasure swords; and royal collectors at the court of Louis XVI.

This year Masterpiece London donated £40,000 to the Wallace Collection, which was put towards the conservation of the magnificent painting by Jordaens, work which was carried out by Anna Sanden’s studio. The conservation work and removal of a thick coat of yellowed varnish applied by restorers, has once more revealed Jordaens’s rich colours, the composition’s depth of field and underlying passages of original paintwork, displaying Jordaens’s superb brushwork. It has cemented his place alongside the great Flemish painters of the seventeenth century, including Van Dyck and Rubens, whom he now resides alongside in the East Drawing Room. The attendant technical analysis and research carried out has revealed fascinating insights into Jordaens’s creative process. The x-ray taken of the painting (courtesy of the National Gallery) has revealed that another composition had been painted underneath, a composition which corresponds closely with another version of this subject by Jordaens, now in the Musees des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. The conservation process has unearthed fascinating questions about the relationship between these two paintings and the painter’s process of reworking compositions over time.

Dr Christoph Vogtherr, Director of the Wallace Collection, said ‘The conservation treatment of Jordaens’s allegory has revealed its stunning force but has also provided a chance to better understand the painting’s complicated genesis. The Wallace Collection is very grateful to Masterpiece London for this opportunity. Its beauty can now be fully enjoyed by our visitors.’

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