The San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA) opened "Art and Empire: The Golden Age of Spain" this May. In it, a gorgeous oil on canvas titled Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist by Francisco de Zurbarán is featured. Painted in 1658, it's a magnificent example of a devotional painting by this Spanish artist.
Exhibition goers may not realize that the painting had been removed from the SDMA galleries in 2017 to undergo a meticulous conservation treatment.
Over the years, the varnish on the paint surface had aged considerably, yellowing the Spanish master's luminous color palette underneath. Thanks to funding from a generous SDMA donor, the painting came under the care of BACC's conservator, Alexis Miller, who completed technical analysis with infrared reflectography and x-radiography to fully understand the layering structure of the painting and the condition of those layers before embarking on treatment. She then consolidated the paint layer and lifted the varnish to reveal the vibrant, warm color tones that Zurbarán had originally intended.
The painting can now be seen in all of its glory inside Art and Empire, on view at the San Diego Museum of Art through September 2.
You can learn more about what went into conserving and restoring this masterpiece on August 23, 2019 at 7 pm when Dr. Michael Brown, Curator of European Art at SDMA, and Alexis Miller, Chief Conservator of Paintings at BACC come together for an in-depth discussion at the James S. Copley Auditorium at SDMA (buy tickets, here)
Featured in this post: Francisco de Zurbarán, Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist, 1658. Oil on canvas, Gift of Anne R. and Amy Putnam. 1935.22.
BACC's Assistant Paintings Conservator, Bianca García, recently presented a talk on 14th Century Italian paintings at the Timken Museum of Art as part of its docent training.
Garcia spoke about the traditional materials and techniques used to create egg tempera panel paintings with gilded backgrounds, a technique that was common during that time. She also brought some of the materials and tools (like gold leaf and powdered pigments) to share with the docents so they could get an idea of what the pigments and layers of the painting look like before the piece is finished.
Learn more about the Timken's collection, here.
BACC's Assistant Conservator of Paintings, Morgan Wylder, presented her research on the materials and techniques of late-19th century French painter Paul Gauguin at the Musée d'Orsay, Paris. The two-day long symposium "Gauguin, le droit de tout oser" accompanied the opening of Gauguin l'Alchemist exhibition at the Grand Palais, Paris.
For those interested in the care and preservation of digitally printed materials check out the Image Permanence Institute. BACC was happy to help facilitate a 2-day workshop presented by Senior Research Scientist, Daniel Burge during which participants learned how to identify and preserve the most common digital types.
Mellon Fellow in the Conservation of Paintings, Bianca Garcia attended the International Symposium for Paintings on Copper (and Other Metal Supports) in Valencia, Spain. The symposium was the first international forum to discuss the construction, technical examination of, and conservation of paintings on metal supports.
"The artworks are beloved by that community and the artwork was saved by that community" Dana Springs, executive director of the City of San Diego's Commission for Arts and Culture (in 2014) said, referencing the paintings, murals, and other work from Aztec Brewing's rathskeller now housed at the Logan Heights Library.
In the late 80s, a group of concerned artists and citizens convinced the city to take ownership of these historic pieces after discovering that the building that once housed Aztec Brewery, a former gathering place in San Diego's Barrio Logan neighborhood, was to be demolished. Decades later, the city received a grant to help with their restoration, and after months of work by BACC's team, they can now be viewed at the Logan Heights Library.
Browse the collection of articles below to learn more about the amazing history of Aztec Brewery and BACC's role in treating this collection: