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Restoring Balance to an Old Master Painting

/ February 25, 2020

Giuseppe Crespi’s Resurrection has been recently restored and is now on view in West Buidling. Check out the before and after pictures, as well as an image of the x-ray, showing the many changes the artist made while painting in the 18th century. I talked with Noelle Ocon, senior conservator of paintings, about her work.

Can you explain a little bit of the restoration process for this painting What needed to be done?

Conservator Noelle Ocon: Like all Old Masters paintings, the painting had a varnish, or top coat, on it that had discolored over time. Removing the varnish, and revarnishing, returns the clarity to the paint layer and saturates the color. The cool and warm colors are again rebalanced.

What did you find that was surprising while restoring this painting?

NO: It was wonderful to image the painting using x-radiography and see the ideas the artist had tried out during the 18th century. It appears Crespi had a tough time deciding how Jesus’ arms should be positioned! We also discovered the painting was in surprisingly good condition considering its age.

How does it look now?

NO: The varnish is now clear and the colors are as Crespi intended, vibrant and balanced. The painting is now on view in the Italian Gallery. Enjoy!

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