As an echo to the recent exhibition „Mantegna und Bellini. Masters of the Renaissance”, held at the Gemäldegalerie from March through June 2019, this presentation gives insight into the technical research and restoration treatments the museum’s conservators executed in preparation for the exhibition. On display are works by two major painters of the Italian Renaissance, Andrea Mantegna (ca. 1431-1506) and Giovanni Bellini (ca. 1435-1516), together with creations by their immediate circle.
Preceding each conservation treatment research is undertaken with regard to the materials used by the artist, the painting technique and its construction as well as regarding the object history and previous restorations. In addition, changes and their causes are to be identified. Microscopic examinations, imaging techniques (investigation with UV radiation, X-rays, infrared reflectography) and other material analyses have made it possible to uncover the genesis of the paintings and to explore the creative means that painters applied in a sometimes very efficient production of paintings. By analyzing paint and varnish layers along with archival material, some fascinating object histories came to light. We show how Renaissance artists adopted and varied successful compositions, what changes, damages and losses the paintings have experienced, and finally which treatments conservators decide on. The exhibition intends to make the conservator’s work behind the scenes transparent to the public. It shows what questions the paintings themselves and their states of preservation raise. Every restoration treatment requires individual consideration of how much retouching or reconstruction will be necessary in order to make a work of art with all its different aspects readable again. The special presentation was funded by the Kaiser Friedrich Museumsverein.