Have you ever seen a famous painting being restored? This summer the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
is letting everyone enjoy a process that is usually carried out behind closed doors. From mid-June the enornous painting Landscape with a Girl Skipping Rope by the world-famous Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí will undergo a miraculous restoration. You can follow the silent spectacle for two months in the Serra gallery. The painting and six other Dalís from the museum collection will then go on show in Milan.
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has a unique collection of Surrealist paintings by artists such as René Magritte, Max Ernst and Salvador Dalí. The painting now being restored comes from the collection of Edward James, an important English client of Dalís. In 1936 he commissioned him to make this work for his house in London. The painting was damaged during an air raid in the Second World War. The centre panel was then stored elsewhere and the side panels were transferred to the Tate Gallery. The panels were reunited and restored in the nineteen-sixties and then found their way to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen as a long-term loan in 1972. The museum purchased the painting in 1977.
At close quarters
During the public restoration in the museum the painting will hang on a temporary wall, set obliquely in the space. Visitors will be able to watch the process at close quarters from behind a barrier so as not to disturb the restorers. Brief texts, photographs and a short film will explain the restoration, and every Wednesday afternoon there will be a period of one hour when visitors will be able to ask questions.
The centre section is in a poorer condition than the side panels partly because of the way it was stored and restored, and as a result the differences in colour are particularly evident. During the restoration, which will be carried out by the Redivivus atelier, the old varnish and layers of dirt will be removed. This will bring out the original colours. The materials used for the restoration will keep their colour and texture and can always be removed again in the future.
The restoration will be carried out in six steps after an extensive preliminary examination: 1. The yellowed varnish layer and the greyish layer of surface dirt on and under the varnish will be removed, and flaking paint will be secured. 2. Old discoloured retouches, overpaintings and fillings in the paint layer will be removed. 3. An intermediate layer of varnish will be applied. 4. Where necessary, damage to the canvas and the paint layer will be repaired, filled and textured. 5. Retouching. 6. A final coat of varnish will be applied if necessary. After that, the painting will be put into a new frame.