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Courtesy of the Denver Art Museum, 2012.

This Early Work by Canaletto is Brought Back to Life After Conservation

The artist’s original intentions in the Venice view come to light after treatment supported by the TEFAF Museum Restoration Fund

The collection of the Denver Art Museum—founded in 1893 as the Denver Artists’ Club—consists of more than 70,000 works across 12 permanent collections, ranging from art of the ancient Americas, Oceanic art, and Asian art to European and American art before 1900, modern and contemporary art, and Indigenous arts of North America.

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Venice: The Molo from the Bacino di S. Marco by Canaletto before restoration. Photo: Jeff Wells. © Denver Art Museum.

During a survey of the museum’s collections, a painting which had been bequeathed by a local collector and held in the museum’s storage due to its condition was discovered to be an early work by the Italian painter Canaletto (1697–1768). Venice: The Molo from the Bacino di S. Marco (circa 1724) was painted by the popular vedute painter before he was in demand and depicts a composition that had been unknown in his œuvre. The work hadn't received treatment in many decades and a full conservation of the painting would bring it back to life, for which the TEFAF Museum Restoration Fund provided support in 2012.

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Giovanni Antonio Canal, called il Canaletto, Venice: The Molo from the Bacino di S. Marco, circa 1724, after restoration. Oil on canvas. Bequest of Charles Edwin M. Stanton, Denver Art Museum. Photo: Jeff Wells. © Denver Art Museum.

Through an in-depth examination, the conservators aimed to learn as much as possible about the painting before its treatment. Previous restorations—including old varnish and corrections—significantly disrupted the painting and had created compositional inaccuracies and were removed. The painting also received a structural treatment by removing its old lining and the addition of a new lining canvas, and areas of losses were painted in. Following treatment, the painting represented the artist’s original intentions once more and was ready for display at the museum.

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The early work by Canaletto on display at the Denver Art Museum. Photo: Jeff Wells. © Denver Art Museum.

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