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The Feast of the Gods - Currently Unavailable

Conservator David Bull of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., examines The Feast of the Gods, by Italian painter Giovanni Bellini (1425/30-1516), and discusses the cleaning and restoration of the painting, which uncovered some previously unknown facts about its history. In 1514, Bellini finished the large canvas, representing a bacchanal, for the camerino of Alfonso d'Este's castle in Ferrara. Later, paintings were also commissioned from Italian painters Titian (1477-1576) and Dosso Dossi (c.1490-1541). It has long been recognized that the landscape in Bellini's painting is by Titian. However, X-ray examination revealed an intermediate landscape between those of Bellini and Titian. Bull presents evidence to support the theory that Alfonso d'Este had Dosso alter Bellini's painting to complement Dosso's paintings in the camerino. Later, Titian painted over Dosso's alterations, to bring Bellini's painting into harmony with his own three paintings in the decorative series. Describes the methods used to examine the painting, including microscopy, pigment analysis, X-radiography, and infrared reflectography. Uses computer graphics to reconstruct the way the paintings probably looked in the camerino, which no longer exists. Shot on location at the Conservation Laboratory of the National Gallery and in Ferrara, Mantua, and Venice, where paintings by Bellini and Titian in the Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari are compared.

Curator's Comments: Strikes a good balance between the excitement of the detective story and the scientific work of the restoration process. Intelligently written, clearly presented and accessible to a general audience. Effective use of computer graphics to show changes as the painting is restored.

DATE: 1990

COUNTRY: United States

Director: David Sutherland
Producer: Byron McKinney; David Sutherland
Executive Producer: Joseph Krakora
Producing Agency: Byron McKinney Associates, Inc., in association with The National Gallery of Art

27 minutes Color

Art & Science

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