News outlets across the globe have shared the story of another failed restoration in Spain. The work was a copy of Murillo’s The Immaculate Conception of El Escorial, and the original remains unscathed at the Prado. It is important to note that the viral image above is slightly misleading, as it compares the two ‘restored’ versions (right) to Murillo’s original painting (left), rather than to the copy before the restoration effort.
The copied painting belongs to a private art collector in Valencia, who had hired a furniture restorer to clean the work. The collector has now asked another specialist to attempt to fix the botched restoration.
The Association of Conservators and Restorers in Spain (ACRE) has released a statement, stating that they ‘regret once again the loss of a cultural asset and, under these circumstances, we request not to take this instance as a social media source of fun, as happened already formerly. Moreover, we all must be alarmed to think that our heritage is disappearing because of these disastrous actions’. They also emphasize that ‘no professional technician with an official academic training would perform such an attempt against cultural heritage’. They warn against the lack of regulations for art conservation in Spain, which ‘allows unskilled people intervening on [art], facing, at best, mere administrative penalties’.
Zurbarán: Jacob and his Twelve Sons, Paintings from Auckland Castle, Meadows Museum, Dallas, USA, September 17, 2017 – January 7, 2018
Francisco de Zurbarán was born in Fuente de Cantos, in Western Spain, but spent most of his working life in Seville. Like Ribera, Zurbarán is also considered a Caravaggista (a follower of the Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, active 1571-1610) particularly for his exceptional use of chiaroscuro.
These 13 paintings (12 by Zurbarán and one a direct copy of the work by Zurbarán) are a visual narrative of Jacob’s deathbed act of bestowing a blessing on each son, foretelling their destinies and those of their tribes. Although each painting holds its own as an exceptional portrait, seeing the works together provides a unique experience for viewers, transporting them across history to make them a witness to that moment. At the Meadows, the paintings will be displayed together in one gallery.
It is not known who originally commissioned the series, but they were auctioned from the collection of a Jewish merchant named Benjamin Mendez in 1756. Richard Trevor, Bishop of Durham, acquired the paintings for Auckland Castle, seeing in the public presentation of these works an opportunity to make a statement about the need for social, political and religious understanding and tolerance between Christians and Jews in Great Britain.
While in the USA, the paintings will also undergo in-depth technical study for the first time at the Kimbell Art Museum. This will include the use of infrared reflectography, ultra-violet light, x-radiography and pigment analysis. The goals of this work are twofold: first, to gain a better understanding of Zurbarán’s artistic process by exploring this unique series of related works; and second, to identify any additional needs for their ongoing conservation and care after they return to the U.K.
Accompanying the exhibition and conservation research will be an illustrated catalogue containing scholarly essays exploring the series from various historical, religious and artistic perspectives. Dr. Mark A. Roglán, Director, Meadows Museum, is the scientific director of the project and has helped to gather contributions by Claire Barry, Director of Conservation, Kimbell Art Museum; Professor John Barton, Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture, Emeritus at Oxford University; Dr. Jonathan Brown, Carroll and Milton Petrie Professor of Fine Arts at New York University; Dr. Christopher Ferguson, Curatorial, Conservation and Exhibitions Director, Auckland Castle; Dr. Susan Grace Galassi, Senior Curator, The Frick Collection; Akemi Herráez Vossbrink, PhD Candidate at the University of Cambridge; Alexandra Letvin, PhD Candidate at Johns Hopkins University; and Dr. Edward Payne, Senior Curator, Spanish Art, Auckland Castle. This exhibition and study have been co- organized by the Meadows Museum, SMU; The Frick Collection; and Auckland Castle; in association with the Kimbell Art Museum. A generous gift from The Meadows Foundation has made this exhibition and study possible, with additional support from the Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica and the Center for Spain in America.
The Centre for Image Research and Diffusion (CRDI) of the Girona City Council and the Association of Archivists of Catalonia, with the support of the Department of Culture of the Generalitat of Catalonia – Sub-Directorate General of Archives, and the Spanish Ministry of Culture – Sub Directorate-General of State Archives, the promotion of the International Council on Archives (CIA/ICA) and the collaboration of Digital Meets Culture, Michael Culture Association, Photographic Studies Institute of Catalonia (IEFC), Sindicat de la Imatge UPIFC and ANABAD.
A Spanish altarpiece of c.1400 by Lorenzo Zaragoza, an Aragonese artist active in fourteenth-century Valencia and Barcelona, will receive conservation treatment, by Serena Urry, in public view. The accompanying press release is available as a PDF file by clicking here.
Rubens: The Triumph of the Eucharist, 25 March – 29 June 2014, Prado; and travelling to the Getty, Los Angeles in 14 October 2014 – 4 January 2015.
Display of six recently conserved panel paintings which Rubens painted as modelli for TheTriumph of the Eucharist part of the series of 20 tapestries commissioned by Philip III’s sister the Infanta Clara Eugenia in 1625 to decorate the convent of Las Descalzas Reales in Madrid, to which the Infanta intended to retire. Four of the tapestries will also form part of the exhibition to illustrate the artistic process from Rubens’ initial painted designs to the finished tapestries woven in 1628 by the Geubels’ family workshop. Other tapestries from the series will remain on display in the convent, which is also open to the public as part of the Patrimonio Nacional.