The Bass, Miami Beach’s contemporary art museum, is the recipient of a Bank of America 2018 Art Conservation Project grant in the amount of $100,000. The grant funding will allow the museum to conserve a treasured work in the museum’s founding collection, the Coronation of the Virgin (c. 1492) altarpiece by Renaissance painters Sandro Botticelli (b. 1445, d. 1510) and Domenico Ghirlandaio (b.1449, d. 1494) . The work is one of over 500 artworks and artifacts gifted to the City of Miami Beach in 1964 by collectors John and Johanna Bass, founding The Bass Museum of Art.
The altarpiece painting Coronation of the Virgin is a significant collaboration between two of Italy’s most important Renaissance painters, Botticelli and Ghirlandaio. The Coronation represents the artists’ only known collaborative effort and the sole surviving example of their shared participation in the design and execution of a single composition. The painting’s three angels and the rest of its heavenly scene above are attributed to Botticelli, whereas the saints, monk and landscape below are attributed to Ghirlandaio. This work is one of two altarpieces originally placed in the monastery Camaldolese Badia of San Giusto and San Clemente in Volterra, Italy.
The painting suffered losses during the transfer process from the altarpiece’s wooden surface to canvas. Conservation will begin with technical, elemental and scientific analyses, as well as research, technical photography and cross-section sampling. Analysis and research will determine the means by which to reline and retack the canvas. Aesthetic treatment will include surface cleaning, varnish removal or reform, refining the most discolored areas of overpaint, and retouching and glazing to improve the design layer. A final varnish layer will be applied to protect the painting and even out its surface.
After conservation treatment, Coronation of the Virgin will be presented at the museum within a permanent collection exhibition, combining a selection of masterworks from the collection alongside contemporary art. In 2020, the painting will travel to Paris, on loan to the Institut de France, Musée Jacquemart-André.