The painting before restoration (photo by the NY Times)
The practice of conservation in the arts, whether of paintings, drawings, sculpture, fiber arts etc., rarely draws much attention outside the field of art historians, conservators and museum professionals. Yet the challenges - both technical and ethical - of preserving those treasures of the past entrusted to our care are very real. The current controversy surrounding the cleaning and restoration of Leonardo's The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne in the Louvre is a perfect example of the stakes involved in such a high profile restoration. Experts have become pitted against each other, committee members have resigned, and the museum's reputation is itself at stake over whether or not the cleaning went too far. This article from the NY Times gives a great overview of the debate and technical aspects of the restoration for the general reader while shedding light on this fascinating corner of the art world!
detail following the restoration
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