Feast of the Gods

Year: 1990

Length: 30 minutes

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"Art restoration as detective yarn? Ivory-towered 20th-century academics snooping around 16th-century Italian palaces like Sam Spade in some Frisco alley? Welcome to the case of the abused Bellini."
Overview

"Art restoration as detective yarn? Ivory-towered 20th-century academics snooping around 16th-century Italian palaces like Sam Spade in some Frisco alley? Welcome to the case of the abused Bellini.

The story so far: Giovanni Bellini, one of the great artists and teachers of the Italian Renaissance, was asked to contribute to a series of bacchanal canvases commisioned in 1514 by Venetian duke Alfons d'Este for display in his palace chambers. Bellini's contribution -- a sort of Olympian slumber-party scene, featuring lecherous Priapus ogling nubile Lotus -- was largely completed by the time of the artist's death in 1516.

Flash forward to the mid-20th century, as restoration experts at Washington's National Gallery of Art, which acquired The Feast of the Gods in 1942, begin cleaning up their Renaissance masterpiece. They discover their "Bellini" is not what it appears to be -- that significant portions were altered and repainted sometime shortly after the master's death. Who would have dared tamper with the great man's work? And why?

These are the questions that National Gallery experts wanted answered, as they set about solving the Bellini whodunit through use of X-rays, paint analysis, computer simulations, and other forms of latter-day techno-snoopery. The process is vividly captured in this arresting 27-minute video produced by the National Gallery, which provides a satisfying peek into a stuffy world that sometimes gets down and dirty."

-Terry Catchpole, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

Awards & Press

Praise for "Feast of the Gods"

"A thoroughly facinating tale." (****)

-Robert L. Pincus, SAN DIEGO UNION

"Wonderful ... as riveting as a detective thriller."

-Christine Temin, BOSTON GLOBE

"B+"

-Terry Catchpole, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

Awards

First Prize: Fine Performing Arts, Birmingham International Educational Film Festival, 1991

CINE Golden Eagle, 1988

Blue Ribbon, American Film Festival, 1991

American Video Conference Award, American Film Institute, 1990