Beyond the Candelabras

The Gallery of the Candelabras takes its names from a pair of massive marble candelabra that help divide the hall, which was arranged by Pope Pius VI in the 18th century. It is within this gallery some of the most important decoration in the Museums can be found. The paintings on the wall were completed by Domenico Torti and Ludwig Seitz. This highly trafficked hall of the Museum is currently undergoing a very important restoration that will highlight these paintings and return them to their original splendor.

20150107_093057Through speaking with head restorer, Francesca Persegati, we learned that the restorers are very interested in this project because it’s a chance to study and work on 20th century mural painting. The other fact that makes this project unique, is that the paintings aren’t frescoes, but instead Torti and Seitz used tempera colors. In addition, the restoration team has not only cleaned the walls, but they also had to evaluate the damage of the roof and the work that must be done to fix it and prevent future damage.

The restoration of the Gallery of the Candelabras is not only a grand project, but it marks an occasion for scholars and restorers to study different techniques of modern art. Our thanks go to not only to Persegati and her restoration team, but also to Connie Frankino of the Ohio Chapter for making this restoration possible!

Gallery of the Candelabras Presentation from Vatican Patrons of the Arts on Vimeo.



The Restoration of ‘Jesus in Front of Pontius Pilate’

The Passion of Christ is one of the most depicted narratives in the history of art. It was, and is, such an important part of the Catholic faith, it is no wonder that artists painted it repeatedly. One such painting, Jesus in Front of Pontius Pilate, has recently been restored in the painting labs of the Vatican Museums thanks to Gary Tigges of the Texas Chapter!

In this particular painting, Jesus is portrayed standing before Pilate, awaiting to be sentenced to death due to accusations of blasphemy. While Jesus is recognizable by his halo, Pilate can be seen in the shadows on the left. His uncomfortable position was likely intentional as according to scriptures he did not want to be part of Jesus’s wrongful death. Pilate sits in anxiety, but Jesus stands tall and calm, accepting the fate that his Father had bestowed upon him. The unknown Nordic Master who completed this work in the mid-16th century, took both inspiration from his homeland, as well as from the Italian Renaissance.

This painting had been restored multiple times in the past, dating as far back as 1923. These former restorations had layered varnish and glues on the painting thereby diminishing some details. The highest priority for the restorers in this instance was to lighten the paint back to its original color after decades of buildup had darkened the palate. After the restoration of the varnish, the restorers strengthened the canvas and filled the lacunae in the framing. These precautions will make it so the restoration will last longer and remain stable for many years to come!

Jesus in Front of Pontius Pilate before the restoration.

Jesus in Front of Pontius Pilate after the restoration.