Landscape with Pilgrims in a Grotto - 1
Joos De Momper
Landscape with Pilgrims in a Grotto, 1620
Oil on Canvas
Conserved in 2010-2011 with Support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services
Condition Prior to Treatment (2009): The strip of darker green landscape at lower right had a pronounced contraction cracking. There was a 1” diameter patch of finely cracked paint with a small canvas puncture and visible threads in the upper left background. There were several brownish deposits that were on the canvas surface before the paint was applied that had cracked and were showing through the paint. There was a small brown drip and some brown debris stuck on the paint surface in the upper left background. There were some small brown spots on the paint surface in the upper left background and in the figure's hair; under ultra violet light these spots glowed quite green. The paint layer was otherwise well preserved.
Conservation Treatment (2010--2011): The severe cupping and detaching paint has been a problem for many years, resulting in many small losses and areas of repaint. The painting needed to be given an overall consolidation treatment to arrest the steady, deterioration and paint loss. Preliminary examination of the painting in its frame resulted in the initial proposal to reline the painting with a consolidating adhesive such as wax resin. Further examination of the painting once it was removed from the frame revealed a strong bond between the painting and the lining canvas, and a good attachment of the lined painting to the stretcher. It was clear that the best course of action would not be relining, but extensive consolidation, by hand, from the front. The insecure paint was consolidated from the front with the application of Beva conservation adhesive and set in place with localized heat. Detaching paint was successfully reattached, and surface cupping was greatly reduced. The thick, deteriorated upper varnish layers were removed with appropriate cleaning agents. This revealed older residues of deteriorated varnish and grime. These older residues of grime and degraded varnish were significantly reduced, but could not be completely removed, with appropriate cleaning agents. The extensive, visible repaints were removed or reduced with appropriate cleaning agents. This revealed older, more discolored repaints. These older repaints were removed or reduced with appropriate cleaning agents, and/or a scalpel, while viewing the surface under magnification. Many of these repaints were covering old abrasions, and had bonded firmly to the paint surface. Minor traces of old repaints remain in place, especially in the sky. Brown staining (varnish and/or grime residues) in some areas of paint in the sky could not be completely removed. Overfilling was removed or reduced, with a scalpel, to reveal intact original paint in many areas. An isolating layer of PVA AYAA (polyvinyl acetate, Union Carbide) was applied overall. Paint losses were filled with pigmented microcrystalline wax. Paint losses and abrasions were inpainted with pigments in PVA AYAA/AYAC. A final, saturating layer of Beva UVS Finishing Varnish (Regalrez) was applied overall. The conservation treatment was completed by independent paintings conservator Steven B. Erisoty.