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A Nun in Prayer

Circle of Philippe de Champaigne

A Nun in Prayer, 17th Century

Oil on Canvas

89-P-357

Purchased with funds provided by The Benjamin D. Bernstein Acquisition Fund 

Philippe de Champaigne was a successful portrait painter in 17th century France. Strongly influenced by the Jansenist religious movement, Champaigne was known for severely plain and analytic portraits which offered a psychological truth about his subjects. This painting is most likely not made by Champaigne himself, but another artist influenced by Champaigne’s style. 

Condition of the Artwork (2009):

The paint layer appears to be well preserved, but fine, slightly cupped, small to medium scale age cracking is visible overall. Ultra violet light reveals a modest amount of repaint at the edges, in the lower left corner, and in a few small, isolate spots, scattered overall. There may be some old repaint below the figure's mouth, and in her chin cloth. There are some slight insecurities to the paint layer at the very edges. There is a small paint loss and some insecure paint in the nun's habit. 

Ultra violet light reveals that older layers of natural resin have been left on the paint layer in most areas. The figure's face, hands and the white portions of her habit have had the older varnish layers removed or reduced. There is a 2"w x 3"h patch of a browned substance in the area around her chin; this may be old glue deposits, grime or natural resin. The varnish on most of the painting is quite thick, does not saturate the paint layer well and has turned milky in horizontal bands; this is quite disfiguring. 

Conservation Treatment Proposed: 

  • Consolidate insecure paint.
  • Remove /reduce the milky, discolored varnish layers and old repaints with the appropriate cleaning agents.
  • Fill and inpaint paint losses with conservation quality materials.
  • Apply conservation quality isolating and finish varnishes overall.
  • All materials used will be appropriate and conservation quality. All work will adhere to the highest standards of the field.

Estimated Cost of Treatment:  $3,125.00