Ludovico Mazzolino’s The Crossing of the Red Sea (1521).

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An Old Master painting and a marble statue will receive special attention after their collections were announced the beneficiaries of the TEFAF Museum Restoration Fund.

The €50,000 grant will be split between Ludovico Mazzolino’s The Crossing of the Red Sea (1521) in the collection of the National Gallery of Ireland and Pietro Francavilla’s marble Venus with a Nymph and a Satyr (1600) in the collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (Connecticut, USA).

Of the two, the painting is described as being in the more fragile state. Severe delamination of the paint layer and soiling to the cracked surface means it cannot be safely displayed and has been stored for several decades. With the funding, the gallery will collaborate with experts in Mazzolino’s work to better understand his artistic practice and restore the work to the point of exhibiting again.

Mazzolino worked for the Este court in Ferrara and Bologna. This picture, showing a scene from the biblical book of Exodus has been part of the National Gallery of Ireland’s collection since it was acquired in 1914.


Pietro Francavilla’s Venus with a Nymph and Satyr (1600).

Francavilla’s marble was commissioned for the gardens of the Villa Zanobi Bracci in Florence and sold to Frederick, Prince of Wales, in 1750. After being in stored at the royal estates of Kew and Windsor, it returned to the market and was sold to the Fogg Museum, Harvard in 1925.

It was planned to stand in the institution’s Renaissance sculpture but was ultimately deemed too erotic for public consumption. It was then acquired by Everett Austin, then-director of the Wadsworth Atheneum.

Through its long history and many moves it has undergone damage and restoration several times.

Matthew Hargraves, director of he Wadsworth Antehneum Museum of Art said the sculpture is “perhaps the greatest Mannerist sculpture in the United States.”

He added: “Since 1934, it has been the centrepiece of our landmark Modernist Avery Memorial building. We are incredibly grateful for this grant from the TEFAF Museum Restoration Fund to conserve Francavilla’s great marble. It will bring this stunning sculpture back to life and return it to pride of place at the very centre of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art as a symbol of our beloved museum’s renewal.”

The Restoration Fund was established in 2012 to support and promote professional restoration and scholarly research of significant museum artworks.