March 11 marks the beginning of a comprehensive campaign on Vincent van Gogh's painting "The Bedroom" (1888). Art lovers can follow the process of restoring this popular painting step by step via a special blog on www.vangoghmuseum.com/bedroomsecrets
. Among others the museum's head of restoration Ella Hendriks will give online updates on the progress of the restoration week by week. "It's the first time we've rendered each step of a restoration accessible to the public in this way" says Axel Rüger, director of the Van Gogh Museum. "And it has the added advantage of keeping the canvas in the public eye." The director will be launching the Bedroom secrets blog today by means of a personal blog post. At the same time the presentation "Bedroom Secrets: Restoration of a Masterpiece" will be on show in the museum's Rietveld building up to 29 August 2010.
The bedroom underwent a thorough examination in 2009 in order to gauge and log the painting's existing condition as minutely as possible. The research was carried out in collaboration with scientists from the laboratories of the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage (ICN) and the Van Gogh Museum's Partner in Science Shell. Based on the results, a plan of restoration was subsequently drawn up.
Van Gogh painted The bedroom during the period he lived in the yellow house in Arles. He selected the composition and the colours with great care, and from his correspondence we know that he was extremely satisfied with the result. In early 1889 Van Gogh returned home after being discharged from the hospital in Arles, where he had been admitted after his depression and the mutilation of his ear. He wrote to Theo: "When I saw my canvases again after my illness, what seemed to me the best was the bedroom." The canvas has suffered much from the start. During Van Gogh's lifetime the painting was damaged due to the damp conditions in Van Gogh's studio. To stop the paint flaking off Van Gogh pasted newspapers over the canvas and wanted to have his brother Theo reline the work with an additional canvas to reinforce it. In 1930 the painting was extensively restored by the restorer J.C. Traas (1898-1984). The current treatment plan will ensure the painting is preserved as well as possible for future generations.