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AGO Successfully Restores Chardin’s Masterpiece Jar of Apricots

Restoration sponsored by BNP Paribas Bank (Canada) with support from the BNP Paribas Foundation

(TORONTO – Sept. 11, 2012) After two years of careful research and conservation efforts, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) has restored Jean-Siméon Chardin’s 1758 masterpiece, Jar of Apricots, to its former glory. This major undertaking commenced in 2010 with support from the BNP Paribas Foundation.

Jar of Apricots is one of an uncommon pair of oval-shaped paintings by Chardin, an 18th-century French master known for his still life works. Sold by James de Rothschild in 1951 and purchased by the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1962, it is one of the most loved paintings in the AGO collection. The work depicts a lemon, a jar of preserves, a confectionary box and a steaming cup of tea served in Chantilly porcelain, all presented informally atop a table. Due to the casualness of the grouping, the viewer is attracted less by the luxury of the delicacies, and more by the desire to consume them.

“Jar of Apricots is one of Chardin’s most successful still life works, and the oval format is unusual for the artist,” said Lloyd Dewitt, the AGO’s curator of European art. “His interest in the effects of light, transparency and reflection are now, thanks to this restoration, evident and the play of light in and around these everyday objects is captivating.”

Guided by accumulated research and in discussion with Dewitt, AGO conservator of paintings Sandra Webster-Cook has carefully removed old discoloured retouchings and the yellowish-tinge that clouded the painting. The process has revealed unexpected colour and clarified the relationship between objects.

“Past restorations had resulted in conditions that dulled this extraordinary work. Original colours were distorted, subtleties were lost and the forms of the objects appeared flattened,” said Webster-Cook. “The lengthy and complex treatment has been very successful. We have retouched areas of damage to re-integrate the forms and recover the original depth of colour and sense of space.”

In 2009 the AGO submitted a proposal to the BNP Paribas Bank (Canada) requesting financial assistance in support of the research, conservation and restoration treatment of the painting. The work will not yet be on display to the public, but will find a permanent home in one of the AGO’s galleries in the months to come.

“The BNP Paribas Foundation is delighted to have participated in the restoration of this masterpiece,” said Jean Jacque Goron, deputy head of the BNP Paribas Foundation. “It is gratifying that this beautiful piece of art will be displayed to the public in the near future and we hope visitors will enjoy admiring this artwork.”

The BNP Foundation was created in 1984; since then it has been committed to supporting the creation and preservation of our cultural heritage by funding the restoration of works in museums the world over.

About BNP Paribas Corporate Philanthropy
The corporate philanthropy policy of the BNP Paribas Group is managed by the BNP Paribas Foundation, the corner stone of the Group's philanthropy initiatives for more than 25 years. It is centered on 5 areas of activity: culture, social inclusion, education, health and the environment. Today, BNP Paribas Corporate Philanthropy is getting concrete through more than 550 programs and 30 M€ all around the world, managed via a network of 12 foundations or initiated directly by countries and businesses. For more information, please visit

About BNP Paribas
BNP Paribas ( has a presence in 80 countries with nearly 200,000 employees, including more than 150,000 in Europe. It ranks highly in its three core activities: Retail Banking, Investment Solutions and Corporate & Investment Banking. In Europe, the Group has four domestic markets (Belgium, France, Italy and Luxembourg) and BNP Paribas Personal Finance is the leader in consumer lending. BNP Paribas is rolling out its integrated retail banking model across Mediterranean basin countries, in Turkey, in Eastern Europe and a large network in the western part of the United States. In its Corporate & Investment Banking and Investment Solutions activities, BNP Paribas also enjoys top positions in Europe, a strong presence in the Americas and solid and fast-growing businesses in Asia.

About the AGO
With a collection of more than 80,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. From the vast body of Group of Seven and signature Canadian works to the African art gallery, from the cutting-edge contemporary art to Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, the AGO offers an incredible art experience with each visit. In 2002 Kenneth Thomson’s generous gift of 2,000 remarkable works of Canadian and European art inspired Transformation AGO, an innovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry that in 2008 resulted in one of the most critically acclaimed architectural achievements in North America. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block, and the often-photographed spiral staircase, beckoning visitors to explore. The AGO has an active membership program offering great value, and the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre offers engaging art and creative programs for children, families, youth and adults. Visit to find out more about upcoming special exhibitions, to learn about eating and shopping at the AGO, to register for programs and to buy tickets or memberships.

Oct. 20, 2012–Jan. 20, 2013: Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting

Mar. 16–Jun.16, 2013: Revealing the Early Renaissance: Stories and Secrets in Florentine Art

The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO members, donors and private-sector partners.


Members of the media are invited to view the restored painting and to speak with conservation staff from the AGO and representatives from the BNP Paribas Foundation at an exclusive unveiling event at the AGO on Monday, Sept. 17, 2012 at 5 p.m.

 For more information on the restoration or the unveiling event, please contact:

Andrea-Jo Wilson; News Officer, Communications
416-979-6660, ext. 403,

Caitlin Coull; Manager, Communications
416-979-6660, ext. 364,

For more information about the BNP Paribas Foundation, please contact:

Cesaltine Gregorio; Head of Media Relations, Americas

Sauveur Menella, Head of Corporate Communications, Canada
514 285 6202,

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