In December 2012, we reported the DMA’s new paintings conservation studio — which was then just in the works, taking over the museum’s old 1717 restaurant space — was going to have a significant impact on the local, high-end arts scene. The studio, much of it on view to the public, opened in November, and now some of the results have started to appear.
The DMA has announced that the first four paintings that chief conservator Mark Leonard has restored are on display in the European galleries. They include Charles-Antoine Coypel, The Blacksmith Cupids (above, left) which was believed lost since 1752. All four paintings were in private collections, but the Coypel is now part of the DMA’s permanent collection.
The other works include St. Ursula Protecting the Eleven Thousand Virgins with Her Cloak (above, right), a masterpiece of the Flemish Renaissance which was sold last year at Sotheby’s for more than $3 million. It was painted by the ‘Master of the Legend of St. Barbara,’ about whom very little is known (he’s named after a triptych). He was a follower of Rogier van der Weyden, who was second only to Jan van Eyck as the most influential northern European painter of the 15th century.
The full release follows:
First Series of DMA Painting Conservation Projects
Now on View in the
Dallas Museum of Art Collection Galleries
Dallas, TX—February 10, 2014— The first four paintings from private collections to undergo conservation treatment in the DMA’s new Paintings Conservation Studio are now on view in the Dallas Museum of Art’s European galleries on Level 2. One of the four, The Blacksmith Cupids by Charles-Antoine Coypel, has subsequently entered the DMA’s permanent collection. The remaining three loans, along with the Coypel, are part of the Museum’s new conservation program to collaborate with private collectors on the study and care of their collections, and then present the works in the DMA galleries for public viewing.
In addition to Charles-Antoine Coypel’s The Blacksmith Cupids, the newly restored loaned works include Jean-Baptiste Oudry’s 18th-century painting Dogs Playing with Birds in a Park; a masterpiece of early Renaissance Netherlandish painting, Saint Ursula Protecting the Eleven Thousand Virgins with Her Cloak; and an Italian 14th-century painted wood panel showing the martyrdom of an early Christian saint.
“Conservation loans are a significant part of our plans to expand the DMA’s in-house conservation program,” said Mark Leonard, chief conservator at the DMA. “In many instances, these types of partnerships result in the opportunity to exhibit the works on public view for a period of time after completion of the conservation treatment, and in the case of the Coypel, add the work to the Museum’s collection. We are extremely grateful and excited by this opportunity.”
Jean-Baptiste Oudry’s Dogs Playing with Birds in a Park, painted in 1754, is now installed next to the Oudry’s Water Spaniel Confronting a Heron in the DMA’s European gallery. The French artist was well known for his “portraits” of animals, particularly the favorite dogs of his aristocratic and royal clients. Saint Ursula Protecting the Eleven Thousand Virgins with Her Cloak is an exquisite example of Renaissance painting from the Netherlands. With this painting, the DMA exhibits for the first time a work by the artist known as The Master of the Legend of St. Barbara, who was active between 1470 and 1500. The oldest of the three loaned works can be dated to as early as 1390. This rare fragment of a predella (a series of scenes commonly found at the base of large Italian Renaissance altarpieces) is by the artist Gregorio de Cecco di Luca of Siena. The superbly painted panel shows a scene of an early Christian saint reverently kneeling in prayer awaiting his death.
Charles-Antoine Coypel’s The Blacksmith Cupids from c. 1715–1720 is a highly finished preparatory sketch for a decoration Coypel made for the space above the fireplace in the bedroom of Louis d’Orléans, duc de Chartres, in his apartments at the Palais-Royal in Paris. This painting is a fascinating rediscovery of a work thought to have been lost since 1752, when it last appeared at the estate sale of the artist’s brother. It is the first work by this artist to enter the DMA’s collection.
Images (left to right): Charles-Antoine Coypel, The Blacksmith Cupids (Les Amours Forgerons), c. 1715-1720, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas C. Campbell; Gregorio di Cecco di Luca, The Martyrdom of an early Christian Saint, c. 1418-1424, egg tempera on panel, collection of Suzanne Deal Booth and David Booth; Jean–Baptiste Oudry, Dogs playing with birds in a park, 1754, oil on canvas, private collection; The Master of the Legend of Saint Barbara, Saint Ursula Protecting the Eleven Thousand Virgins with her Cloak, c. 1470-1500, oil on panel, collection of Suzanne Deal Booth and David Booth
About the Paintings Conservation Studio
The new Paintings Conservation Studio at the Dallas Museum of Art opened 2013 as part of the Museum’s initiative to establish a more comprehensive in-house conservation program. The Paintings Conservation Studio features state-of-the-art technology—including a digital X-ray system—and serves as a center for study and treatment of works of art as well as research into cutting-edge conservation methodologies. An adjoining gallery regularly rotates works of art, providing a space for visitors to explore the conservation process in greater detail through visual representations.