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Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Varnished Villanueva

by Conservation

5/26/2022

Murillo , paintings conservation , CAMConservation

Behind the scenes in paintings conservation, cleaning of the very large painting by the Spanish artist, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, has begun.  Shown here on the easel, the upper half of the painting has had its yellowed varnish dissolved and removed with organic solvents.  In the detail, young St. Thomas of Villanueva is still varnished, though a cleaning test has been done on his pink cheek, while the boy to his right has been cleaned.

Once the cleaning is completed, the surface will be brushed with a fresh, non-yellowing coat of varnish, and inpainting, or retouching within losses, with conservation paints will begin on the old damages and abrasion in the 350-year-old oil painting.

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (Spain, 1617-1682), Saint Thomas of Villanueva Dividing His Clothes Among Beggar Boys, c. 1667, oil on canvas, Bequest of Mary M. Emery, 1927.412