Behind the Scenes at the DAM

Turret We Discovered Has Us Wondering

Part 7 of Conserving a Canaletto

I’ve been cleaning the Canaletto, taking my Q-tips to the surface and gently removing all of the restorer-applied discolored varnish and overpaint. Upon removal of some overpaint, an area discussed in our earlier video post, I discovered a turret, or tower. This is a pretty exciting discovery. While it doesn't make a lot of visual sense in the context of the painting, it is nevertheless interesting and makes one wonder if it was overpainted in the first place because it didn't work or if there was some other reason.

As discussed in that video post, Timothy Standring and I agree to not completely remove all of the layers of discolored varnish. This is primarily because many of the original impastos and brush strokes were flattened during the previous lining, limiting the viewer’s ability to truly see the artist’s hand. Leaving the discolored varnish residues in the interstices of the paint accentuate the remaining brush work.

This post is one in a multi-part series by Denver Art Museum staff on a long lost painting located in our collections. Find links to more from the series.

Image credit: Giovanni Antonio Canal, called il Canaletto. Venice: The Molo from the Bacino di S. Marco, about 1724. Oil on canvas. Bequest of Charles Edwin M. Stanton, 2009.336.

James Squires was the paintings conservator at the Denver Art Museum.