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Restoration of masterpiece by Nicolas Poussin at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia


Paris, The BNP Paribas Foundation and BNP Paribas Australia are supporting the restoration of a masterpiece by Nicolas Poussin, part of the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

As part of a program to aid museums preserve important works, the BNP Paribas Foundation and BNP Paribas Australia, which is celebrating 130 years of operation in Australia, will fund the restoration of The Crossing of the Red Sea by painter Nicolas Poussin (1594 – 1665). Considered one of the French artist’s masterpieces, the work belongs to the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.

Painted in 1634, this large canvas (155.6 x 215.3 cm), which represents an episode from the Old Testament, is a companion piece of another work, The Adoration of the Golden Calf, now in the National Gallery in London. The oil on canvas paintings were made in Rome for the Marquis Amadeo dal Pozzo, and were quickly considered as two of the artist’s chefs-d’œuvre, earning a mention in the first biography of Poussin written in 1672 by Giovanni Bellori. With its highly structured and balanced composition, The Crossing of the Red Sea is emblematic of Poussin’s work, with characters in simple poses and plain faces expressing their emotions through gestures. Also typical is the use of soft, harmonious colors.

The work has suffered the effects of time and a yellowing varnish has altered the transparency of the colors. There are significant areas of overpainting, along with cracks and flaking. These flaws will be analyzed in detail by Nicolas Poussin specialists from several leading museums, including the Louvre, the National Gallery of London and the Getty Museum in California. The National Gallery of Victoria has the largest artwork restoration facility in Australia. Once restored, The Crossing of the Red Sea will again be displayed in time for celebrations of the museum’s 150th anniversary in 2011.

About BNP Paribas Corporate Philanthropy
BNP Paribas Corporate Philanthropy has been created to integrate the Group’s expansion and consolidate its many philanthropic commitments. BNP Paribas Corporate Philanthropy is managed by the BNP Paribas Foundation, the corner stone of the Group’s philanthropy initiatives for the past 25 years. Under the aegis of the Fondation de France, the BNP Paribas Foundation strives to preserve and bring to a wider public the treasures in museums, to encourage artists and performers in disciplines that attract little corporate funding, and to finance state-of-the-art research projects (in the medical and environmental field). The BNP Paribas Foundation also supports education, social integration, and disabled projects. The point of reference in the group in the matter of arts funding, and working closely with its network in France and abroad, the BNP Paribas foundation backs each of its programmes for its entire duration.

Preserve and promote the cultural wealth of museums
The BNP Paribas Foundation is a longstanding and loyal partner to museums, providing support to promote access to collections for the broadest possible public. In addition to funding for the publication of catalogues of permanent museum collections, the Foundation supports restoration work on masterpieces through the BNP Paribas for Art program.

BNP Paribas for Art
The BNP Paribas for Art program was created in 1994 to help restore works held by museums. This restoration work is essential to preserve this rich cultural heritage and make it available to current and future generations.
In the 16 years since its creation, the program has enabled the restoration of over 200 works from every period of art history at France’s most prestigious museums and monuments, including the Château de Versailles (ceiling of the Salon d’Hercule painted by François Lemoyne), the Centre Georges Pompidou (My Flower Bed by Yayoi Kusama) and the Musée d’Orsay (pastel collection). The program extends to museums throughout France, including the Musée des Augustins in Toulouse (15th century statue of the Virgin and Child, the, Nostre Dame de Grasse), the Musée de l’Abbaye Sainte-Croix at Sables d’Olonne (Gaston Chaissac collection) and the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Quimper (restoration of early Italian paintings currently in progress).
As the BNP Paribas group expands internationally, the BNP Paribas Foundation has since 2004 participated in restoration projects at major museums around the world, including the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, Germany (Triptych of the Virgin by Macrino d’Alba), the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia (The Boar Hunt by Franz Snyders), the Art Gallery of Ontario in Canada (Jar of Apricots by Jean-Baptiste Chardin), the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens, Greece (ten post-Byzantine frescoes), the Van Loon Museum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (six panels painted by Jurriaan Andriessen), the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow, Russia (Natalia Goncharova’s triptych The Bathers), the future Mosaic Museum in Alexandria, Egypt (restoration in progress of mosaics discovered in Alexandria dating from antiquity) and the Peranakan Museum in Singapore, with restoration of a beaded tapestry dating from the early 20th century.

About BNP Paribas Australia
BNP Paribas has been supporting businesses in Australia for 130 years as the first major foreign bank to establish operations in the country in 1881. Today, it works with leading organizations and financial institutions, providing strategic advice and solutions through its Corporate & Investment Banking and Investment Solutions business lines.

About the National Gallery of Victoria
Founded in 1861, the National Gallery of Victoria is Australia’s oldest public art gallery. Its International Collection has expanded with the addition of major works including The Crossing of the Red Sea by Nicolas Poussin, acquired thanks to a bequest from Australian industrialist Alfred Felton (1831 – 1904). With over 65,000 art works, the museum boasts major collections in diverse areas such as old masters (Rembrandt, Rubens, Tiepolo, Tintoretto, Veronese, etc.), Greek and Egyptian antiquities, historical European ceramics, textiles, fashion and photography. The museum also has a large collection of Australian Aboriginal art.


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