Interventions

Benedetto Carpaccio's altarpiece

In 2015, in addition to the conservation and restoration work on the organ paintings by Vittore Carpaccio, challenging work began on the altarpiece of Mary and the Saints by his son Benedetto.

Text by Barbka Gosar Hirci

Procedure

The painting technology varies greatly between artists. Benedetto's canvas preparation is made up of several different layers and is applied in thick layers. The layers of colour are also more pronounced in the son's work than in his father's. The similarity between the two painters can be found in the pigments used, where cinnabar, lead red, orpigment, natural ochre, azurite, etc. were specified for both artists. Documents on previous restoration work are also an invaluable source of information. The Heritage Information and Documentation Centre of the Ministry of Culture holds records indicating the extent of restoration work carried out in the 1960s.

 

Overview

The detailed examination and probing of the individual non-original varnishes on Benedetto's exceptionally dark artwork allowed for a precise orientation and was a fundamental guide in the choice of an appropriate conservation and restoration methodology. The removal of the darkened varnishes was carried out in several stages. First, the layer of the earliest varnish was removed, along with the last retouches. Underneath the removed varnish was another older varnish which was more difficult to remove. The technology for removing the latter was adapted to its characteristics, taking into account that the original half-millennium-old paint layer was underneath.

Removing darkened varnishes, retouches and overpainting are the most problematic interventions in the conservation and restoration profession. Verifying the amount of non-original layers removed, taking into account the natural ageing of the original, and filling in missing parts of the pictorial layers were key to establishing an appropriate aesthetic presentation of Benedetto's work.

 

 

Overview

The detailed examination and probing of the individual non-original varnishes on Benedetto's exceptionally dark artwork allowed for a precise orientation and was a fundamental guide in the choice of an appropriate conservation and restoration methodology. The removal of the darkened varnishes was carried out in several stages. First, the layer of the earliest varnish was removed, along with the last retouches. Underneath the removed varnish was another older varnish which was more difficult to remove. The technology for removing the latter was adapted to its characteristics, taking into account that the original half-millennium-old paint layer was underneath.

Removing darkened varnishes, retouches and overpainting are the most problematic interventions in the conservation and restoration profession. Verifying the amount of non-original layers removed, taking into account the natural ageing of the original, and filling in missing parts of the pictorial layers were key to establishing an appropriate aesthetic presentation of Benedetto's work.

 

Benedetto Carpaccio's altarpiece, after restoration
Benedetto Carpaccio's altarpiece, after restoration
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