The Restoration Process


Fig. 9. a b y c Old restoration altered the Virgin’s mantel, concealing the original fall of the drapery

Fig. 10. a, b and c

Fig. 11. a, b and c Old areas of re-painting concealed the face of one of the angels, as well as the subtle effects of glazing

The manner in which The Immaculate Conception of Los Venerables was restored took account of both the historical and physical data set out above.

The painting was consolidated with adhesives similar to the original used in the work. This process made the various paint layers more stable without modifying their structure.

Old varnishes and areas of re-painting were gradually eliminated paying due attention to the aesthetic unity of the work as a whole. The whites were more stable and better preserved than the earth pigments, which are more likely to alter with the passing of time. It was observed that the effects of heat and abrasive cleanings in the past had notably damaged the paint surface, resulting in the loss of some of the top glazes. These factors had to be borne in mind in order not to unbalance the composition and to prevent some areas becoming more prominent than others. The aim when cleaning the painting was to achieve an appearance as close as possible to Murillo’s original intentions (Fig. 9, a, b, and c. ).

The process of re-integration has once again made the composition fully legible. Areas of loss and damaged glazes have been replaced with the intention of recovering the original intention of the brushstrokes and their beauty (Fig. 10, a, b, and c). Using visible brushstrokes or transparencies it has been possible to recreate the ethereal atmosphere of the work, while the glowing areas of light that give the composition its meaning have recovered their original splendour (Fig. 11, a, b, and c.).

Finally, the Museum’s restorers applied a layer of transparent varnish that intensified the luminosity of the colours and acted as a protective barrier.

The painting’s carved and gilded wooden frame in the Louis XV style was commissioned by Marshal Soult and made in France. It has now been restored to tone in with the painting.

Overall, and as a result of the recent restoration that has returned Murillo’s work to all its technical and compositional splendour, the viewer can once again appreciate the celestial jubilation of the angels and accompany the Virgin on her fervent, spiritual journey.

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