Category: Conservation

Lecture: Painting Conservation at Knole

September 29 2023

Image of Lecture: Painting Conservation at Knole

Picture: The National Trust

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Some readers might be able to make this fascinating lecture next week. Conservator Melanie Caldwell will be giving a talk next Tuesday 3rd October entitled Framing Knole, which focuses on recent campaigns to conserve and restore paintings at this important property.

According to the Trust's website:

Paintings Conservator Melanie Caldwell will talk about projects undertaken on paintings at Knole, including the Grotesque scheme in the Cartoon Gallery, the early Portrait of Sir Ralph Bosville from around 1600 and Sir Joshua Reynold’s Portrait of Huang Ya Dong.

Tickets cost a mere £7.

The Royal Collection rediscovers a lost Artemisia

September 28 2023

Video: The Royal Collection Trust

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Royal Collection have been sweeping the internet recently with the exciting news that they have rediscovered an important work by Artemisia Gentileschi. The work, which was misattributed several centuries ago, was created during the 1630s when Artemisia was working alongside her father Orazio in London for King Charles I.

This recently conserved painting will be on view at Windsor Castle in a special display focusing on its rediscovery alongside other works by the artist and her father in the Royal Collection.

Restoring the King Arthur tapestry

January 16 2023

Video: Met

At the Metropolitan Museum, they're restoring a series of c.1400 Netherlandish tapestries, the so-called 'Heroes' set. Some of them were once turned into curtains in the 19th Century, so they need some TLC. In the video above you can see the tapestries being cleaned, which involves hoses, and detergent. I sometimes wish we could clean paintings like that. Back in the day, I once read, they used to rub them (tapestries, not paintings) with breadcrumbs. More here

Tiepolo's Paintings in Verolanuova are being Restored

April 10 2022

Image of Tiepolo's Paintings in Verolanuova are being Restored


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Two large paintings by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo's, kept in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in the Basilica of San Lorenzo, Verolanuova, are to be restored. Work has recently begun on bringing the artist's monumental canvases of The Sacrifice of Melchizedek and The Collection of Manna back to life. The work is being supervised by conservator Davide Dotti.

Religious Artworks Restored at the Museo de la Semana Santa de Cuenca

April 1 2022

Image of Religious Artworks Restored at the Museo de la Semana Santa de Cuenca

Picture: Museo de la Semana Santa de Cuenca

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Museo de la Semana Santa de Cuenca (The Museum of Holy Week) in Spain have just opened an exhibition dedicated to a set of restored religious works of art. Jewels of the Passion features five works from various parishes that have been brought back to life through a vast conservation project.

Click here for an online catalogue (in Spanish) of the exhibition, which features quite a few interesting photos during the various stages of conservation.

The show will run from 31st March 2022 until 22nd May 2022.

I think this 'before and after' of a set of three anonymous sixteenth-century panels is rather striking! If only the revealed picture was of better quality:

New 'Restoration' Scandal in France

March 29 2022

Image of New 'Restoration' Scandal in France


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News has been emerging from Chatonrupt-Sommermont in the Haute-Marne, North-Eastern France, of a rather curious restoration scandal. The story revolves around a town Mayor who commissioned a retired soldier called Patrick Quercy to 'restore' a set of nineteenth-century Stations of the Cross. These rather damaged paintings had recently been rediscovered in the bell tower of an old church. Quercy's work had been featured on a regional news programme where several commentators spotted that the work was far from satisfactory (see the comparisons above). Didier Rykner of La Tribune de l'Art used words such as 'vandalism' and a 'massacre' to describe this most misguided campaign of restoration. He has also drawn attention to the vulnerable position that so many religious artworks of 'no commercial value' are placed in.

Restored Rubens to be unveiled in Cologne on Easter Monday

March 15 2022

Image of Restored Rubens to be unveiled in Cologne on Easter Monday


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Peter Paul Rubens's recently restored Crucifixion of Saint Peter is about to be unveiled for members of the public. The painting, which has been in the Church of Sankt Peter in Köln (Cologne) since 1642, measures 3.5 x 2.5 m and has been undergoing sensitive conservation over the past two years. This recent campaign of restoration cost the church and diocese no less than €85,000. As in olden times, the painting is set to be unshrouded on Easter Monday for the congregation gathered in the building.

Saving Ukranian Cultural Heritage & Art

March 14 2022

Video: The Guardian

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Alongside the horrific human suffering due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, many media outlets have also been covering the brave and heroic efforts of cultural and museum officials in saving their cultural treasures. Whole museum collections have been hidden away into safe places. Important historic buildings in cities like Lviv and Odessa have been scaffolded and covered up in hope that they will be protected against potential shelling.

From the Russian museums side of things, large institutions like the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg are demanding that all international loans are returned by the end of the month. This has particularly affected some exhibitions in Italy, it seems. The National Gallery in London will also "no longer be seeking" a Raphael from the Hermitage for their upcoming show.

The Louvre are Restoring a Poussin

March 10 2022

Image of The Louvre are Restoring a Poussin

Picture: @MilovanCavor

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Nicolas Milovanovic, Chief Curator at the Louvre in Paris, has shared some rather interesting images on Twitter of a conservation project on the museum's The Nurture of Bacchus by Nicolas Poussin. The clean, which is due to finish soon, looks rather promising indeed. Click through the link to see more images on Nicolas's Twitter page.

Renovated Collegio Alberoni Reopens

March 9 2022

Image of Renovated Collegio Alberoni Reopens


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Italy that the newly renovated Collegio Alberoni in Piacenza, Italy, will be reopening to the public this weekend. In particular, vast interventions have been made to upgrade the apartments belonging to Cardinal Giulio Alberoni (1664–1752) who founded the college and collection of art. The most singular piece in the collection is a version of Antonello da Messina's Ecce Homo.

Press photographs also show a rather intriguing approach to displaying Jan Provost's Madonna of the fountain and Glass with flowers within a niche:

Casa Buonarroti Conserve two Michelangelo Bas-reliefs

March 3 2022

Image of Casa Buonarroti Conserve two Michelangelo Bas-reliefs


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Florence's Casa Buonarroti have shared news of the conservation and restoration of two bas-reliefs by the young Michelangelo. The Madonna della scala (pictured) and the Battle of the Centaurs both date to the early 1490s and were recently treated to some dusting and light-cleaning by conservators. Both artworks will be redisplayed in the newly renovated marble rooms of the museum which also features brand-new LED lighting.

Musée des beaux arts de Lyon conserve and redisplay picture acquired in 1875

March 3 2022

Image of Musée des beaux arts de Lyon conserve and redisplay picture acquired in 1875

Picture: Musée des beaux arts de Lyon via. Jean-Christophe Stuccilli

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The art historian and heritage conservation officer of the Musée des beaux arts de Lyon Jean-Christophe Stuccilli has shared news that the museum has conserved and redisplayed Sébastien-Melchior Cornu's (1804 - 1870) Augustus giving the constitution to Gaul. The work, dated to 1869, was acquired by the museum in 1875 but has never been on public display before.

Upcoming Release: Histories of Conservation and Art History in Modern Europe

March 3 2022

Image of Upcoming Release: Histories of Conservation and Art History in Modern Europe

Picture: Routledge

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The publishers Routledge will be releasing the following book later this month. Histories of Conservation and Art History in Modern Europe features a collection of essays edited by Sven Dupré and Jenny Boulboullé.

Here's a list of the essay titles featured within:

1 Introduction: Experts in the Interbellum

Part 1 Science, Authentication and Issues of Conservation 

2 "We Cannot Splash Light onto Our Palettes": The 1893 Munich Exhibition and Congress and Its Public Demand for Research on Painting Materials and Techniques

3 A. P. Laurie and the Scientific Appreciation of Art

4 Seeing Through the (Old) Masters: The Crisis of Connoisseurship and the Emergence of Radiographic Art Expertise  

5 Rome 1930, the International Conference on the Scientific Analysis of Artworks and Its Legacy in Italy

Part 2 Education and Professionalisation 

6 Mending, Sticking, and Repairing: Reconstructing Conservation Expertise in Archaeology in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

7 Wissenschaft, Vocation, or Bildung?: Debating the Sites and Aims of German Art History at the End of the Nineteenth Century

8 Education in the Art and Conservation Field in German Countries

9 Experiments in a Teaching Museum: The Fogg’s "Laboratory for Art"

Part 3 Museums and Institutions 

10 Omnium Gatherum to a ‘Treasury of Art and Science’: The Development of Conservation Expertise at the Ashmolean Museum

11 The (In)visibility of the Paintings Restorers of the Rijksmuseum in the First Half of the Twentieth Century

12 Gemäldekunde. German Pioneers of the ‘Science of Painting’ 

13 Invention as Necessity: The Salvage of Italian Frescoes During World War II

14 Expertise, Multiple Actors, and Multiple Voices

The book will be released on 15th March 2022.

Introducing the 'Viennese Salvator Mundi'

March 2 2022

Image of Introducing the 'Viennese Salvator Mundi'

Picture: KHM

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Kunsthistoriches Museum (KHM) in Vienna have shared news that it has completed a research project which has reattributed a painting to Titian. The museum embarked on the campaign in 2021 to investigate whether the following Christ with a Globe or the Viennese Salvator Mundi (as some have been calling it) could be the work of Titian during the 1520s. As is so often the case, the oil on canvas bears some old damages and rather unsympathetic overpainting (visible in the hair, nose and right eye, it seems).

X-rays have revealed that the present work was painted on top of a Virgin and Child:

The museum have started a crowdfunding campaign to have the work fully-restored in time for an exhibition in October 2022.

The National Gallery are cleaning Reynolds's Captain Robert Orme

March 2 2022

Video: The National Gallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Gallery in London have made this video regarding the conservation of Sir Joshua Reynolds's Portrait of Captain Robert Orme (1756). In particular, conservator Hayley Thomlinson explains why the artist's experimental techniques made his pictures so difficult to tricky to treat even in our modern age.

The Musée d'Orsay conserve a Monet

March 1 2022

Video: Musée d'Orsay

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Musée d'Orsay in Paris have just redisplayed a recently conserved painting by Claude Monet. Femmes au jardin (1866) has experienced a hard life, especially after being damaged several times and thus was covered by old campaigns of restoration. Fortunately, the work into researching and conserving the painting has been completed, nearly all of which can be accessed through the following webpage. The work was carried out by the Center And Search Restoration Musées De France (C2RMF)

The National Trust conserve three Fathers of the Church

March 1 2022

Image of The National Trust conserve three Fathers of the Church

Picture: The National Trust

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Trust have shared news of the conservation and restoration of three oil paintings of Saints, known as the Fathers of the Church. The works, which depict Pope Gregory I, Saint Jerome and Saint Augustine Bishop of Hippo, are in the collection of Chastleton House in Oxfordshire. It is believed the panel paintings date to around the time the house was built in the opening decades of the seventeenth-century.

The article linked above explains that the fourth 'father' is missing:

However, a fourth painting of Saint Ambrose, a fourth century theologian and Bishop of Milan, is missing. A magazine article in 1919 noted the four paintings as a set so while it is thought to have hung in the house until the early 20th Century, nobody knows where it is now.

“It is a mystery,” said Ruth Peters, Senior Collections and House Officer at Chastleton. “We have an idea of what it would look like as the paintings are based on - but are not an exact copy of - a set of four Flemish engravings. The last members of the family to live at Chastleton before it came into the care of the National Trust have no memory of the fourth painting. It might have been sold or given away and so could be hanging on somebody’s wall, unrecognised.”


As a brief aside, I thought I would share this sneaky picture I took many years ago when I last visited Chastleton. It's a beautiful house filled with some interesting things. However, I could never quite understand why they decided to hang this rather fine Thomas Hudson (one of the collection's best pictures) well behind a rope off of a corridor.

Versailles's Madame de Maintenon Conserved

February 24 2022

Image of Versailles's Madame de Maintenon Conserved

Picture: Palace of Versailles

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Palace of Versailles have published a short article providing details concerning the recent conservation and restoration of Louis Ferdinand Elle the Elder's Françoise d'Aubigné, marquise de Maintenon (1635-1719), and her niece Françoise d'Aubigné, future Duchess of Noailles (1688).

It seems that the artist had originally intended for the portrait to be in a smaller format, as it was eventually extended on four sides to allow for a full-length painting. X-ray images have also shown that the sitter's dress had been changed from more fashionable lace attire to the austere costume that appears in the final image. The work was undertaken by the The National Centre for Research and Restoration in French Museums (C2RMF)

Art Institute of Chicago's Lawrence Mid-Clean

February 23 2022

Image of Art Institute of Chicago's Lawrence Mid-Clean

Picture: Instagram via. @emersonbowyer

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Emerson Bowyer, Senior curator of European Painting & Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago, has shared these rather pleasing mid-clean pictures of Thomas Lawrence's Anna Maria Dashwood, later Marchioness of Ely. As you can see, Lawrence's vibrant colours really do shine when those layers of murky varnish are removed.

Here is what the picture looked like before conservation:

We'll await the finished results with great anticipation (!)


As an aside, what I would give to see the Wallace Collection's early Lawrence in the Front State Room cleaned. The transformation would surely be most impressive.

Donato Montorfano's Crucifixion undergoing Conservation

February 21 2022

Image of Donato Montorfano's Crucifixion undergoing Conservation

Picture: finestresullarte

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Italian art website finestresullarte have published an extended article on the conservation of Donato Montorfano's (1460-1502) Crucifixion in the Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan. Famously, this fresco is situated opposite Leonardo's Last Supper. In fact, this large work opposite contains rather damaged portraits of Ludovico il Moro with his wife Beatrice d'Este which have been attributed to Leonardo himself. The link will also take you to many interesting pictures showing the work being undertaken on these fragile wall paintings.

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