Restoration

 

The Agony in the Garden with the Donor Louis d’Orléans (before its restoration) Colart de Laon? Egg tempera, 56.5 x 42 cm. 1405-07 – 1408. Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

The Agony in the Garden with the Donor Louis d’Orléans (after its restoration) Colart de Laon? Egg tempera, 56.5 x 42 cm. 1405-07 – 1408. Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

This work, which was possibly the central panel of a triptych, is one of the most important discoveries made in recent times within the field of early French painting. Its acquisition by the Museo del Prado represents a major addition to the Museum’s collection of fifteenth-century art. Only a small number of French paintings of this period have survived, very few of which are of comparable quality or importance, making this a truly exceptional example.

When the panel entered the Prado in 2011 the surface was covered by various areas of repainting, one of which, at the lower left side, concealed the figure of the kneeling donor and his patro saint, Agnes, identifiable by the lamb at her feet. On completion of the restoration it was possible to appreciate the artist’s unique and innovative style, in particular with regard to the novel depiction of the pictorial space, which reveals stylistic advances comparable to the work of various miniaturists such as the Boucicaut Master (active 1390-1430).

The identification of the donor as Louis I d’Orléans has allowed for the suggestion that the artist is Colart de Laon (documented 1377-1411), Louis’ painter and valet de chambre. Following the Gospel of Saint Luke (22, 39-46), the painter has depicted the kneeling Christ praying to God the Father before a rock on which rests the chalice, a metaphor of his Passion as the cup from which he must drink. Due to the long, narrow format of the work, the inclusion of the donor and of the saint in the foreground obliged the artist to increase the distance between Christ and the sleeping Apostles and to reduce them in size.

The panel had been the subject of previous interpretative restorations of an inappropriate type and its appearance was thus very different to its original one. The textures and finish that it would originally have possessed were concealed by overpainting and it could not be affirmed that they were in an appropriate condition. The colours had become dulled, losing their subtle nuances and transparency. The present text will offer an account of how the restoration was undertaken, explaining the decisions that were taken as the panel started to reveal the full complexity of its state of preservation and the richness and subtlety of its original qualities.

María Antonio López de Asiaín
Restorer
Museo Nacional del Prado
 
Ministerio de Cultura. Gobierno de España; abre en ventana nueva
España es cultura Spain is culture
Copyright © 2014 Museo Nacional del Prado.
Calle Ruiz de Alarcón 23
Madrid 28014
Tel. +34 91 330 2800.
All rights reserved