The reinstatement


Areas of lost pigment were replaced with watercolour with the assistance of a stereoscopic microscope in order to avoid covering even the tiniest part of the original paint and to ensure the greatest possible degree of precision.

When choosing a protective layer we looked to manuscript illumination, which employs matte pigments of extremely intense colour that last well due to the use of a non-oil-based technique. It was clear that a similar appearance was the appropriate one for this Agony in the Garden in order to recover its intense illumination and vivid chromatism. It was also important that the varnish should revive the original vibration of the gold against the blue sky and emphasise the effect of relief created by the gold on the clothes. For all these reasons we selected a natural dammar varnish that was applied in a single, very thin layer.

The restoration of the frame followed the same criteria and methodology as those used for the painting, given that they are one and the same object, both stylistically and in material terms. After the frame was cleaned and later metallic paint removed, a minimal aesthetic readjustment was made by glazing losses with watercolour, albeit without replacing the few small missing fragments in order to respect the object’s material history to the greatest possible degree.

On completion of the restoration process it was clear that the painting had recovered its remarkable original quality, its slightly greenish flesh tones, transparency, and the sense of volume in the clothing, as well as the composition and relationship between the pictorial planes. The mountains now no longer seem separated in terms of distance and the shrubs create a linking element between them. The original concept of the pictorial space between Christ and the Apostles, which was flattened out by the overpainting, has also been re-established. In addition, it is now possible to appreciate the representation of the ground with its stepped terracing so characteristic of the world of manuscript illumination. The present intervention has revived the original lightness of the paintwork, particularly in elements such as the trees, recovering the effect of the wind passing through the branches. Finally, ensuring that the figures are all in a similar state of preservation means that they are once again harmoniously related.

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