The paint layer

 

The preparatory layer and paint that had lifted off from the panel

Oxidised, coloured varnishes

The Purification of the Virgin in the Temple by Pedro de Campaña, after restoration

In order to preserve the overall state of Campaña’s painting when it was taken out of the altarpiece in the cathedral prior to being brought to Madrid, an initial intervention was carried out by the Museum’s restorers inside the cathedral. Having reached the Museum, the panel was the first element to be restored, after which the restorers moved on to stabilising the paint layer in a gradual manner, first correcting irregularities in the gesso, then consolidating and flattening the craquelure and any colour particles that were at risk of coming loose.

Removal of old varnish and areas of re-painting

The elimination of varnish and re-painting was one of the most complex aspects of the restoration process. The paint surface was covered with various superimposed layers of oxidised varnish that were in some cases coloured with pigments, combined with dirt from the atmosphere that made it difficult to distinguish the original subtle and delicate glazes. In addition, the areas of re-painting in some cases were larger than the areas of paint loss underneath them, resulting in a delicate and laborious process to eliminate them while not removing original paint.

Re-integration of the colours

The process of re-integrating the colours has paid particular attention to the “tone” of the originals, with the aim of avoiding harsh contrasts resulting from earlier alterations, settling each space and volume in its place with the aim of recuperating the composition original perspective and spatial depth through the light and colour.

Conclusion

The principal aim of the procedure used for this restoration project was that of compensating irreversible damage and recuperating what lay beneath the various earlier restorations, while also dealing with problems resulting from the passing of time. As a result, and for the first time in more than 400 years, the Museo del Prado has the honour and satisfaction of presenting Campaña’s great work in its rooms in optimum environmental conditions and with the painting now as close as possible to its original appearance as created by the artist.

 
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