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Zeus Sires Dionysus at the DMA; Semele Has a Role

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The Dallas Museum of Art‘s conservation studio has restored a work by French baroque painter (called “the French Titian” by… some?) Jacques Blanchard. Zeus and Semele, his 17th-century oil painting, will go on view tomorrow in the museum’s second-floor European galleries.

Restoration of the work took six months, and as the painting had been glued on top of another canvas in the 19th century (presumably for support) and its dimensions stretched because of it, the studio also returned it to its original dimensions. Also, (via the DMA): “Layers of discolored varnish and areas of previous re-paint were removed, revealing the depth and beauty of the original painting.” The painting depicts Zeus’ seduction of Semele (a.k.a. Dionysus’ mom).

“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.”

 

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