Unique lost masterpiece discovered at Tatton Park
As seen on BBC4’s Britain’s Lost Masterpieces, a team of art experts has identified one of Tatton Park’s paintings as a lost work by distinguished renaissance artist, Francesco Salviati. Up until last year, the portrait was considered only as ‘A Physician’ by an unattributed artist.
After fully investigating the mysterious portrait, with the help of art conservator Simon Gillespie, the painting was officially attributed to Francesco Salviati, one of the leading Mannerist fresco painters of the Florentine-Roman school. Born in 1510, his most notable frescoes are found in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence and the Farnese Palace in Rome. Following expert conservation, cleaning and analysis, they also identified the man depicted in the portrait as Realdo Matteo Colombo (1515-1559), a pioneering anatomist of the Italian Renaissance. He studied at Padua University, was surgeon to Pope Julian III and a friend of Michaelangelo.
Portrait of Matteo Realdo Colombo by Francesco Salviati
Here is the portrait before restoration. And after. Incredible detail such as Colombo's belt buckle, the vibrant colours of the tablecloth and alcove in the background have been revealed. The restorer expertly repaired damage to areas of the face and a split in the panel. A key clue to this being a work by Salviati is the handwriting on the medical journal, revealed more clearly after restoration. It matches the handwriting featured in another Salviati painting, where the sitter is also holding a book.
The only place in the country to see a portrait by Salviati
The discovery means that Tatton Park is now the only place in Britain where you can see a Salviati portrait. As soon as the Mansion re-opens to the public, visitors will be able to view this 16th century painting in all its restored glory. When we re-open, the Mansion team is already planning to display the portrait at eye level, so it can be studied by visitors in detail. In the meantime, if you missed the episode tracking this ‘whodunnit’ of the art world, you can watch it on the BBC iPlayer or learn more about the restoration story behind this important find at www.simongillespie.com/salviati
Two mysteries solved
Carolyn Latham, Mansion and Collections Manager at Tatton Park said,
“After all these years, we’re so pleased to finally find out who the artist is behind this painting. Salviati is a fantastic outcome and to also discover the sitter, is the icing on top! It’s been very exciting to learn more about Colombo and his contributions to medicine and anatomy. We can’t wait to show the painting to visitors and tell them more.”