Conservation Work on Tintoretto

28 September 2018

Tintoretto, born Jacopo Comin in Venice in 1518, the eldest of 21 children, was an Italian painter and member of the Venetian School, a vibrant group of painters, including Veronese, Titian and Bellini, working from Venice in the later part of the 15th Century who gave prominence to colour over line in their works.

Tintoretto’s father Giovanni Comin was a dyer or tintore, hence the nickname ‘Tintoretto’ meaning little dyer or dyer’s boy. After seeing his son painting on walls Giovanni sent Tintoretto to Titian’s studio for training. It seems Titian sent the young Tintoretto home after only 10 days; whether this was because he was jealous of Tintoretto’s skill or he recognised a truly original eye we will never know. Although Tintoretto remained an admirer of Titian they never became friends and Tintoretto continued his studies alone. Tintoretto was named Il Furioso for the dramatic energy in his paintings.

In the Bute Collection we have an oil painting by Tintoretto depicting an Allegorical Scene of a woman crowning an old man with a laurel wreath which is part of a pair of paintings in the Drawing Room.


This painting recently underwent conservation work at Egan, Matthews and Rose.

The moulded gilt frame was relatively stable although it had suffered some water damage and woodworm. The original canvas had been glued to another, thinner canvas and these were beginning to split apart on all four edges. This was due to the canvas contracting and water damage which could have exacerbated the issue. The paint itself was in relatively good condition with only a few areas of flaking in the hair of the female figure and wear to the surface of the painting. The craquelure, which refers to the fine lines and cracking that forms in the paint or varnish of a painting as it ages, was quite raised but stable.

To resolve these issues the canvas had to be de-stretched to treat any minor damage and re-stretched over the support. The varnish and any other dirt on the surface had to be cleaned so the adhesive used to support any fragile areas could penetrate the painting effectively. Over time the surface of a painting will attract dirt and dust that causes discoloration and cleaning this layer enhances the vibrancy and original effect of the painting. After the frame itself has been treated for water damage the painting can be re-framed.

This conservation work ensures it stays in the best possible condition for years to come and can remain on display at Mount Stuart.

Allegorical Scene by Tintoretto seen through the right hand arch in the Drawing Room