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The Death of St. Joseph

Francesco De Mura (Studio of)

The Death of St. Joseph, 18th Century

Oil on Canvas


De Mura, a celebrated 18th century Italian painter, is known for a softer painting style than the Baroque which was so popular at the time. Although De Mura, experimented with Baroque early in his career, he quickly adapted to a more controlled and refined style, utilizing rhythmical lines, light and airy colors, and delicate psychological overtones. His soft use of emotion in his biblical, mythological, and allegorical scenes hints at the enlightened rationalism of the late 18th century, occasionally foreshadowing Neo-Classicism. 

Condition of the Artwork (2009): 

There is a fine, medium to broad scale, slightly cupped age cracking visible overall. Ultra violet light reveals old repaints in the sky, in the virgin’s blue robe, along the right edge, in the floor near the smoking urn, and scattered overall. The very thin paint layer has become transparent with age, and slightly abraded by previous cleanings. The natural resin varnish has turned yellow-brown and no longer saturates the paint layer well. 

Under magnification, what initially appeared to be blanching along the upper left edge is fine fracturing and flaking of the varnish. This appears to have been caused by glue deposits having been left on the surface before the painting was varnished. Careful examination of the upper left edge reveals excessive glue, as if a loose area had been glued down. There appears to be a slight grime layer on the surface.

Conservation Treatment Proposed:

  • Remove/reduce the grime with the appropriate cleaning agents.
  • Remove/reduce the degraded varnish with the appropriate cleaning agents.
  • Remove/reduce repaints old repaints with the appropriate cleaning agents.
  • Remove/reduce the glue or paste deposits with the appropriate cleaning agents.
  • Apply an isolating layer of a conservation quality varnish overall.
  • Fill and inpaint paint losses and abrasions with conservation quality materials.
  • Apply a conservation quality finish varnish 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:  $4,000.00