Newly restored La Ghirlandata unveiled at Guildhall Art Gallery


La Ghirlandata, the Pre-Raphaelite masterpiece described by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, as “my very best picture”, has been restored and will be unveiled by William Russell, Lord Mayor of the City of London, at Guildhall Art Gallery on Thursday (30 January).

In October 2018, Bank of America awarded an Art Conservation Grant to the City of London Corporation to facilitate the extensive, year-long restoration of the 1873 portrait.

The grant enabled conservators to undertake the restoration, which included scientific paint analysis and advanced methods of visual imaging to examine, test, and treat the painting and frame.

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The painting was cleaned to remove discoloured varnish and overpaint to reveal a brighter, fresher scene with a cooler tonality. The frame, which was also designed by Rossetti, was repaired and delicately cleaned to remove non-original coatings, grime, and fingerprints.

The deteriorated lining canvas, once added to reinforce the painting, was removed and replaced, ensuring that the 147-year-old painting will be stable as it approaches its second century.

The Art Conservation Project at Bank of America seeks to conserve historically or culturally significant works of art. To date, it has provided grants to museums in 33 countries, across six continents for more than 170 conservation projects, comprising thousands of individual pieces. The Bank supports more than 2,000 not-for-profit cultural institutions each year.

Graham Packham, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Culture, Heritage and Libraries Committee, said:  “La Ghirlandata is one of Guildhall Art Gallery’s most admired art works and it is gratifying to know that its true colours, as well as the original frame’s beauty, will now be seen and enjoyed as they were nearly 150 years ago.

“My colleagues and I are hugely grateful to Bank of America for supporting this restoration project so generously and like many of the art gallery’s regular visitors, we are looking forward to seeing the painting back on display.”

Elizabeth Scott, the City of London Corporation’s Principal Curator of Guildhall Art Gallery, said: “Now that the delicate and complex restoration work has been completed, we have returned La Ghirlandata to its full aesthetic power and are giving it pride of place in one of our main exhibition spaces.

“It will be a joy to see visitors coming face-to-face again with the painting and through our international loans programme, we are hoping to work with art galleries at home and abroad to enable it to be appreciated by as many people as possible.”

Rena De Sisto, Global Executive for Arts & Culture and Women’s Programs at Bank of America, said: “We were delighted to partner with Guildhall Art Gallery to conserve and safeguard this important Pre-Raphaelite masterpiece.

“We believe in the power of the arts to help economies thrive, to educate and enrich societies, and to create greater cultural understanding. Our art program is part of our continued commitment to grow responsibly while bringing value to economies, society and the communities we serve.”