CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

National Gallery’s Rubens Conservation Appeal

Help The National Gallery to rediscover a Rubens masterpiece, The Birth of Venus, about 1632–3. They need your help to restore one of Rubens’ most beautiful oil sketches. Donations can be made with the JustGiving website or by filling out the form on the special leaflet.

Information from the museum’s website

The project

The Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) was among the greatest artists of the 17th century: inventive, ambitious, and prolific, his work has come to epitomise the Baroque style.

The National Gallery houses over 20 paintings by Rubens, ranging from intimate portraits to sweeping landscapes and complex allegories. In addition to paintings, Rubens also produced designs for sculpture, architecture, tapestry, and decorative arts, often formulating his ideas by means of quickly painted oil sketches.

“This intriguing oil sketch is a design for a silver basin depicting the birth of Venus. Although the painting is in superb condition, over time the varnish has discoloured, so that it is now difficult to discern the delicate beauty of Rubens’s brushwork.”
        Betsy Wieseman, Curator of Dutch and Flemish Paintings

Preliminary cleaning tests undertaken by National Gallery conservator Paul Ackroyd have revealed the shimmering white and grey tones of the original sketch, which would have vividly evoked the lustre of polished silver. By removing the top layer of discoloured varnish, Rubens’s modelling and detailing will be revealed.

“This conservation project is vital in order to preserve and improve the condition of the oil sketch and it will greatly enhance the appreciation of this remarkable work for generations to come. “
             Larry Keith, Head of Conservation and Keeper

Why we need your help

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to undertake conservation projects of this kind. We need your support to help us raise the £34,500 necessary to fund the conservation of this important work. Your contribution, however large or small, will be vital to restoring one of Rubens’s most beautiful oil sketches.

Once the conservation work has been completed, The Birth of Venus will return to public display in Room 29.

Please help us bring this project to life by making a donation today.

If we exceed our fundraising appeal then we will use any additional funds to support other important conservation projects at the Gallery.