Visible cracks in the surface of the painting after the stucco process

Visible cracks in the surface of the painting after the stucco process

After restoration. Details

Earlier restorations and Earlier restorations

The delicate state of the work is the result of its complex history, starting in Augsburg where it fell over as it was being put out to dry. As a result it underwent its first restoration, undertaken by Christoph Amberger who worked for Titian. The tears at the lower left of the canvas resulting from this accident are still visible. The painting was clearly ripped off its stretcher during the fire in the Alcázar. It was re-lined in the late 20th century by Jacinto Gómez. As a result, the painting needed extensive restoration, which was carried out in 2000-2001.

Previous restorations had saved the work as a whole but had resulted in serious consequences in the form of areas of re-painting, inserts, patches and a protective gauze that was very visible on the pictorial surface and which had produced irreversible marks on it. In addition, areas of porous stucco had been used which, over time, had blended into the pictorial surface, fusing with the pigments and old varnish.

In addition, the craquelure had seriously lifted with a corresponding risk of pigment loss on the surface. Furthermore, the canvas revealed blistering and lack of adherence between the pigment layers and the preparation. Overall, there was a general degradation of the adhesives, varnishes and oils.

The restoration process. Cleaning

The first phase consisted of carefully removing the thick film of dust and dirt that covered the pictorial surface in order to avoid remains of dirt becoming attached with the adhesives that would subsequently be applied. Cleaning and consolidating the paint surface gave it greater stability, while the inserts, breaks and craquelure were reduced in number and size. Following these procedures, the uppermost layers of thick, oxidised varnish that altered and impeded an overall vision of the painting were removed, as were the thick areas of re-painting.

Re-integration of the paint surface

Re-touching was kept to a minimum in specific, limited areas, generally carried out with pigment mixed with varnish. The technique used for re-integration was that of small, unified dots, intended to be almost invisible and to fuse with the original painting without affecting its chromatic and aesthetic effects. In some areas it was considered more appropriate to execute these re-touchings in the form of small lines in order not to visually disturb Titian’s horizontal brushstrokes.

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