Enfilade

The Golden Room of the Mauritshuis Restored

Posted in museums by Editor on May 2, 2014

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Restoration of the Pellegrini paintings in the Golden Room of the Mauritshuis has just been completed in time for the re-opening of the museum in June. As noted at ArtDaily:

The Golden Room, a spectacular 18th-century room in the Mauritshuis , which includes a series of paintings by Italian painter Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini (1675–1741) has been restored. The 15 wall and ceiling paintings were treated as part of the museum’s larger building project. The restoration of the Pellegrini paintings was undertaken with the support of the Shell Technology Centre Amsterdam. The pictures from the Golden Room are the first to have been returned to the renovated Mauritshuis. The museum will reopen after a two-year renovation on the evening of Friday 27 June.

The restoration of the Golden Room is an important component of the museum’s large scale project to renovate and expand the building. The restoration of the 15 monumental paintings by Pellegrini in the Golden Room was necessary. Although the pictures were not seriously damaged, they had been painted over several times, and the canvas was stained and showed strong yellow discoloration. The Johan Mauritshuis Compagnie Foundation provided the funding to realise the restoration.

Once the varnish had been removed, an unknown grey haze was discovered on the paintings. According to Carol Pottasch, Mauritshuis conservator who led this sizable restoration project: “We couldn’t figure out what this haze was initially; clearly, it wasn’t paint. In order to be able to bring the paintings back to their optimal condition, we had to find out the composition of this haze, so that it could be removed. Thankfully, the staff of the Shell Technology Centre, who have the equipment necessary to conduct the chemical analysis that we needed, were able to help us.” The Mauritshuis and Shell have been collaborating closely as ‘Partners in Science’ in the field of technical research since 2012, focussing on paintings by Pellegrini and Jan Steen. The partnership has already proved invaluable: together, they were able to establish that the cause of the grey haze was the wood- and coal-burning stoves used to heat the Golden Room.

In 1704 a fire reduced the whole interior of the 17th century Mauritshuis building to ashes. The interior had to be completely refurnished and redecorated. Italian painter Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini (1675–1741) was asked to decorate the Grote Benedenzaal, as the Golden Room was called at the time. Pellegrini was one of the most important Venetian painters of the early 18th century. The paintings are special: they are the only Italian pieces on display in the Mauritshuis and they are still on site, unlike most Pellegrini paintings.

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