The Art Gallery of New South Wales has recently acquired a large 17th century Flemish painting attributed to the workshop of Frans Snyders, titled The boar hunt c1650s. The huge work and its frame are in a very fragile condition and unsuitable for display in the present state. It is therefore a timely arrangement that the funds required to undertake the necessary conservation treatment have been secured from the bank BNP Paribas.
The painting is a gift by Charles Davies-Scourfield and makes a significant contribution to the collection of Flemish paintings at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Frans Snyders (1579-1657) was highly regarded for his paintings of animals and still life subjects. The subject of a group of dogs bringing down a boar was painted by Snyders in many variations. The best known of these is a version in the Royal Collection, Hampton Palace, painted by Snyders in 1653. The Sydney painting however was unknown to Sydners experts until it was given to the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2005.
The conservation of the painting has two goals: firstly to stabilise the physical structure of the painting, and secondly to reveal the original painting with its true colour and paint texture. Although fragile and discoloured, the painting is in remarkably good condition for its age with little loss of original paint.
The conservation treatment is currently at the exciting stage of removing the discoloured varnish. This is unveiling a brilliantly lit sky, with suggestions that a passing storm at the left and a break in the clouds at right. The frame on the painting is also in fragile condition requiring a major treatment to restore the missing parts and to clean the surface in order to reveal the original gold leaf finish.
The Chairman and CEO of BNP Paribas in Australia, Mr Francois Cristofari, said, “BNP Paribas is delighted to be able to bring the support of the bank's global Foundation into Australia to assist with the restoration work at Art Gallery of New South Wales. This year marks the 125th Anniversary of BNP Paribas operations in Australia since we were originally established here in 1881.
"Our global Foundation has considerable expertise in the art restoration area, working with major galleries in France and Europe including the Musée d’Orsay and the Chateau de Versailles. This project was seen as of particular significance given it includes restoring the painting and its frame, and thus supporting in Australia the highly specialised and technical skills involved in this area of cultural heritage work."
The conservation treatment of the painting and frame is expected to be completed by July 2007. Progress reports of the conservation project as it progresses will be available online at www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/aboutus/conservation.
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Images available on request
IMAGE CREDIT: School of Frans Snyders (Flanders, b.1579, d.1657)The boar hunt c1650s
painting, oil on canvas, 172.0 x 239.0cm
Gift of Charles Davies-Scourfield 2005