Two paintings enter the conservation studio in preparation for “The Botticelli Renaissance”


There are just five months to go before 'The Botticelli Renaissance' opens. Preparations for the exhibition are also in full swing in the Gemäldegalerie's conservation studio. Two paintings from the workshop of Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), not on permanent display and housed in the gallery's storerooms, are currently undergoing a series of conservation and restoration treatments in preparation for their first presentation to the Berlin public. 

The painting 'Christ as Savior' (57 x 43 cm) dates from around 1500 and was part of the Gemäldegalerie's original collection in the year of its founding. The panel was acquired from an English collector named Solly in 1821. Few people know that in the final decades of his career, the master of the famous 'Venus' painted almost nothing but religious subjects that are striking for their dry, even harsh style. Contrary to artist-biographer Giorgio Vasari's claims that, under the influence of preacher Girolamo Savonarola, Botticelli abandoned painting and, 'having no income to live on, fell into very great distress', we now know that from 1490 until his death in 1510 he and his workshop managed to satisfy the popular demand for religious paintings in his hometown of Florence. 

The second picture from the Berlin storerooms is an example of one such work, commissioned by a private household in Florence. The other panel, the tondo 'Madonna with Infant and John' (diameter 80 cm), has also been in the collection since the 19th century. At the time, the Berlin collection of Botticelli works in the Gemäldegalerie and Kupferstichkabinett was the most important outside Florence itself. 

The two paintings will go on display in the Gemäldegalerie's forthcoming exhibition, along with other Botticelli panels, drawings, and prints from the SMB's collections and a host of high-profile loans from major museums in Europe and the United States. 

'The Botticelli Renaissance' will be on show from 24 September 2015 to 24 January 2016 in the Gemäldegalerie - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. 

The exhibition is being held in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. It is sponsored by the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe, the LOTTO-Stiftung Berlin, and the Kaiser Friedrich Museumsverein.