"Madonna of the Meadow"

Grant Funds Conservation of Painting at Hartwick’s Yager Museum

November 17, 2011

The Yager Museum of Art & Culture at Hartwick College recently received a $7,500 grant from the Conservation Treatment Grant Program of the Greater Hudson Heritage Network to fund the restoration of one important painting.

The Conservation Treatment Grant Program of the Greater Hudson Heritage Network is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency. Fewer than 50 percent of applicants received funding. The grant will allow the museum to restore the one-panel painting titled "The Madonna of the Meadow."

"The museum is very grateful for this grant, which will help us to conserve this very important Venetian panel painting from about 1505," said Yager Museum Director Donna Anderson. "Recent art historical analysis by guest curator K. Michelle Arthur, Ph.D. led to the attribution of this work to the workshop of Giovanni Bellini. For example, the composition of the Yager Madonna is very similar to a Giovanni Bellini 'Madonna of the Meadow' now in the collection of the National Gallery in London.

"Local collector and Hartwick supporter Rev. Louis van Ess purchased the painting in 1954 in Venice, and the change in environment necessitated conservation treatment in New York City, including the removal of the original wooden panel and the application of a thick layer of consolidating varnish on the surface," she explained. "After its donation to the college in 1960, the painting spent many years in storage."

Now, more than 50 years later, the varnish has yellowed dramatically, distorting the soft rose, blue, and green palate of the original paint. The Williamstown Conservation Lab will study the painting through x-ray and paint analysis to determine the age of the paint and identify the areas with original paint. The lab will restore losses and apply a new layer of varnish to the surface, protecting it for the future.

The Yager Madonna survived more than 500 years of changes in ownership, harsh cleaning, early attempts at conservation and restoration, and being "lost" in storage.  When the conserved panel painting returns to us in the spring of 2012, the original color palette will be revealed and additional scientific data from the conservation process will help us to better understand the creation and the history of this Renaissance painting.  

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,500 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes a uniquely experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a unique January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for the world ahead. A Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable

Contact: Christopher Lott
Phone: 607-431-4030