Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
  • About Des
  • Contact

    Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614)
    The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon, 1599
    Collection: National Gallery of Ireland

    Following an eighteen-month conservation and research project generously supported by Bank of America, Lavinia Fontana’s celebrated painting The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon was today unveiled at the National Gallery of Ireland. Part of the Gallery’s permanent collection, it is the largest surviving painting by one of the most renowned woman artists of the Renaissance. Funding for the conservation of this artwork was generously provided through a grant from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project.

    Lavinia Fontana was one of the most successful female painters in the history of Western art. The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon is widely recognised as Fontana’s most ambitious painting. On the occasion of the unveiling, the Gallery is delighted to also announce Lavinia Fontana: Trailblazer, Rule Breaker – a large-scale exhibition opening in the Gallery’s Beit Wing in May 2023. Exploring the artist’s extraordinary life through her paintings and drawings, it will be the first monographic exhibition of Fontana’s work in over two decades.

    The conservation treatment of The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon addressed structural issues as well as aesthetic ones. Research into the artist’s materials and techniques revealed fascinating details about the painting and its production. Cracking and instability in the over 400-year-old structure has been arrested so that the painting can be safely displayed and enjoyed for generations to come. After the painstaking removal of layers of dull and yellow varnish, many previously obscured details were uncovered during the conservation treatment. This included an inscription, dated 1599, on the base of an ornamental clock held by one of the figures in the composition. Scientific analysis has identified the pigments Fontana used and given new insights into her workshop practice.

    Comments are closed.