Dallas, TX –March 9, 2015 – The 17th-century oil painting Zeus and Semele by Jacques Blanchard, a French baroque painter known as “the French Titian,” has been newly restored in the DMA’s Paintings Conservation Studio and beginning tomorrow the painting will go on view in the Dallas Museum of Art’s European Galleries on Level 2. The picture is part of the Museum’s conservation program to collaborate with private collectors on the study and care of their collections and then present the works in the DMA’s galleries for public viewing.
Jacques Blanchard (1600–1638) was a French baroque painter who worked and studied in Italy, returning to Paris for the last nine years of his life. This painting was originally attributed to an anonymous French 18th-century artist, but in the spring of 2014 it was recognized as the work of Jacques Blanchard, based primarily on its close relationship to Blanchard's Danae in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon. In addition to the stylistic similarities, the Lyon composition includes the same tasseled pillow and gold-fringed red curtain, which could have possibly been studio props.
“Cleaning produced a radical transformation in the appearance of the picture,” said Mark Leonard, Chief Conservator at the DMA. “The masterful handling of the flesh tones of the nude Semele, the creamy highlights of the white bedding, the deep contrasts throughout the figures of Zeus and the Eagle, and the intensity of the flames that are about to engulf the scene came back to compelling presence and balance.”
Conservation on this painting, which depicts Zeus seducing Semele, who becomes the mortal mother of Dionysus, was executed over the course of six months and included treatment to the canvas and restoration from previous conservation efforts. The original canvas had been glue-lined, most likely in the early to mid-19th century, to a secondary canvas support. In the lining process, the composition was extended on all sides. During the conservation treatment, the canvas was returned to its original dimensions. Layers of discolored varnish and areas of previous re-paint were removed, revealing the depth and beauty of the original painting.
About the Paintings Conservation Studio
The Paintings Conservation Studio at the Dallas Museum of Art opened in 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.
Images (left to right: pre treatment; during treatment; post treatment): Jacques Blanchard, Zeus and Semele, 17th century, oil on canvas, Lent by Mr. and Mrs. Thomas C. Campbell
About the Dallas Museum of Art
Established in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) is among the 10 largest art museums in the country and is distinguished by its commitment to research, innovation, and public engagement. At the heart of the Museum and its programs is its global collection, which encompasses more than 22,000 works and spans 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Located in the nation’s largest arts district, the Museum welcomes some 600,000 visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary events, and dramatic and dance presentations. In January 2013, the DMA returned to a free general admission policy and launched DMA Friends, the first free museum membership program in the country, which currently has over 90,000 members. For more information, visit DMA.org.
The Dallas Museum of Art is supported, in part, by the generosity of DMA Partners and donors, the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, and the Texas Commission on the Arts.