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'Majestic' Coronation of the Virgin Mary painting restored

The painting is at St John's CoCathedral

The St John’s CoCathedral Foundation has unveiled the restoration of the Coronation of the Virgin Mary, a majestic and large painting which was in dire need of intervention.

The painting was in an advanced state of deterioration because of the movements it had sustained, especially when it had been removed from its frame and placed into storage during war time, Cathedral CEO Cynthia de Giorgio said.

Past interventions covered some of the details of the iconography obscuring the original aesthetics of the composition. The layers of varnish that had been given to the painting had darkened over the years rendering the canvas surface dull and the subject difficult to comprehend.

The restoration methods used in this project reversed past interventions and brought the painting close to its former condition.

"The process unveiled the elegant iconography of the mannerist style of this painting which can now be safely placed as a production of the late 16th century,” she said.

Restorer Fr Charles Vella explained that the four by three metre painting had suffered from very bad conditions of conservation especially during the Second World War.

During the years, it had gone through botched restoration applications, and as much as 40% of the pigment colour was lost. 

The restoration process took 11 months to complete. The canvas on the front was treated, and the old relining canvas was removed, together with dust and glues. Reversible pigments were used for retouching, and the technique was used according to restoration ethics: using a technique known as puntinato to differentiate from the original.

Varnish was finally applied as a protective measure. 

Culture Minister Owen Bonnici commended the work being done by the foundation and thanked all its employees for their efforts to improve and showcase the CoCathedral.



Foundation president Wilfrid Buttigieg said one of the main responsibilities and duties of the foundation was the effective conservation, restoration and management of this world heritage site and sacred place of worship.

The restoration of this painting, he said, had been proposed some years ago since it needed various interventions and the foundation left no stone unturned to make sure that it was done to the highest degree.

He said the foundation was planning to include an in-house restoration laboratory which would have a viewing point for visitors to appreciate on-going restoration works.



 

 

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