Correggio’s Madonna and Child with infant St John the Baptist is once again gracing the walls of the NGV following a conservation treatment. Acquired through the generosity of NGV Trustee Andrew Sisson in 2011 the work was briefly displayed after its arrival in Melbourne. Soon after it was taken into the Conservation Studio where NGV paintings conservator Carl Villis fulfilled one of his great ambitions, to work on a painting by this outstanding master of the Italian High Renaissance. Carl removed a quite old and darkening varnish and some over-painting that probably dated from the nineteenth century. Curiously at that time many works by Correggio were slightly altered by restorers to make the children in particular appear a little bit more saccharine. For instance, Carl removed some golden curls that were added to Christ’s hair. However, the change in the appearance of the work is not a radical one, but it is definitely closer to how Correggio intended the painting to look back around 1511 when he created it. It is in remarkably good condition for something that is four hundred years old.
The painting is located at NGV International on Level 1 in the European 14th-16th century gallery.