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Mexican 17th and 18th Centuries Oil Paintings Undergo Color Restoration

MEXICO CITY.- Restorers from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) intervene 5 oil paintings from 17th and 18th centuries part of different museums’ heaps at the Easel Painting Workshop of the National School of Restoration, Conservation and Museography (ENCRyM), to revert damage caused by humidity and the passing of time, such as cracks and detachment of the pictorial layer.

“Our Lady of the Flowers” and 4 untitled paintings that refer to Jesus’ birth, John Nepomucene, Saint Augustine and the apparition of Baby Jesus to Saint Anthony of Padua, the last one painted on a board.

The artwork is part of the collections of the National Museum of Interventions, El Carmen Museum, Queretaro Regional Museum and Tlaxcala Regional Museum, and is being intervened by restorers Alejandro Leon, director of the workshop, Lilia Rodriguez Gutierrez, Otto Cruz, Cristina Noguera, Lucia de la Parra and Jose Rodriguez, all part of the National Coordination of Cultural Heritage Conservation (CNCPC).

Artwork has already been consolidated, except for the painting that shows Saint John Nepomucene, part of the National Museum of Interventions (MNI) heap, which original 18th century wooden frame was too weak and put the painting in danger, so it was changed.

“The painting is 1.60 meters wide by 3.87 long, explained restorer Alejandro Leon, so we brought it to CNCPC to extend it on the floor”; the support (back of the painting) was cleaned and the pictorial layer was consolidated with beeswax on the tinny cracks to avoid further deterioration.

Another artwork intervened was painted with oil on board by Luis Juarez at the early 17th century. It represents the apparition of baby Jesus to Saint Anthony: He began an important artists’ dynasty: his son Jose Juarez, great-grandsons Nicolas and Juan Rodriguez Juarez also painted.

Restorer Alejandro Leon mentioned that this image presents a special feature: the translucent Jesus’ cloak. “Transparency is difficult to achieve; Luis Juarez is one of the most important artists of the Colonial period”.

“The restoration phase has not begun since the consolidation process was complicated; there are image gaps and some inferior wooden parts came off” mentioned the specialist.

The oil paintings from Tlaxcala Regional Museum are “Our Lady of Flowers” and an image of Baby Jesus’ birth. Both presented cracks and were plastered with a reddish wax and resin paste as used by New Spain artists. INAH experts think these artworks’ pictorial layer can be restored in a 90 per cent.

The oil painting from the El Carmen Museum heap represents a biblical character, possibly Saint Augustine; it was created by Domingo Ortiz and is dated in 1798. Restoration process is advanced in a 70 per cent: it is clean and reinforced, cracks were plastered and a protective varnish was applied. Chromatic reintegration is taking place, with the objective to recover an 85% of the original.

National Institute of Anthropology and History | National School of Restoration | Conservation and Museography | Alejandro Leon | director of the workshop | Lilia Rodriguez Gutierrez | Otto Cruz | Cristina Noguera | Lucia de la Parra | Jose Rodriguez |

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