Every year, Iberdrola finances restoration work on a series of works from the Museum's permanent collection under its Conservation & Restoration programme. The power corporation also provides the financing for a training and research grant in the Conservation & Restoration Department itself.
Over the past year, 2016, the following works in the collection have been restored through the support of the Iberdrola Programme for Conservation and Restoration: Satirical Banquet (ca.1550) by the Flemish artist Jan Mandijn; The Meal (ca.1921-22) by Alberto Arrúe; two works, Untitled (ca.1972) and Untitled [Poxpolinak (Arias Navarro)] (ca.1978) by Vicente Ameztoy; the painting on copper Saint Peter Nolasco (ca.1739) by Antonio González Ruiz, and the engraving after it of the same year by Juan Bernabé Palomino. Finally, within the works on paper section, the project initiated two years ago continues active on the restoration of twelve, late 19th-century drawings by the Bilbao artist Roberto Laplaza.
As on other occasions, in addition to the material treatment of these works the Iberdrola Programme has contributed to their art-historical study. This has yielded valuable information in the case of the painting on copper of Saint Peter Nolasco, which entered the museum's collection in 1927 as a work by an anonymous 18th-century Spanish artist but which, following a comparative study with a reproductive print of the painting by Juan Bernabé Palomino, can now be firmly attributed to Antonio González Ruiz. This attribution has been confirmed during the painting's restoration, which has revealed the remains of a signature at the lower right consisting of the letter "A" with an interlinked "g" and "Fa", the abbreviation of the term faciebat ("made me").
(Haarlem, Netherlands, 1502-Antwerp, Belgium, 1560)
Satirical Banquet, ca.1550
Oil on panel, 98.5 x 147 cm
Bequest of Don Laureano de Jado in 1927
This scene, which reflects the Flemish satirical tradition, depicts a country wedding. The bizarre figures and symbols (both overt and suggested) of lust, gluttony and stupidity derive from contemporary literature in the Low Countries and offer a moralising lesson on reprehensible human behaviour.
WORK UNDERTAKEN: The conservation procedure has consisted of treating the pictorial surface and removing oxidised varnish and old areas of repaint. Once the pictorial surface was stabilised, the museum's restorers filled in losses with gesso then proceeded to reintegrate the colour and varnish the work. The reverse has been cleaned, resulting in the reappearance of two original labels from the Jado bequest. The work is now presented in a new frame appropriate to the style and period of the painting, completing its conservation installation with an acrylic protection and a cellular polycarbonate back.
The Meal, ca.1921-1922
Oil on canvas. 124.5 x 185.5 cm
Private donation in 2014
This work was included together with two others on similar scenes of social critique (Drowned Fisherman and Men dismissed from Work) in a solo exhibition devoted to Alberto Arrúe at the Salón Müller in Buenos Aires in July 1922. It depicts a worker on the Bilbao estuary during his lunchbreak, eating the meal his wife has brought him and accompanied by their son. The formal simplification and monumental treatment of the figures reflects the premises of Basque art at this period, which Arrúe adhered to in his painting.
WORK UNDERTAKEN: The painting required treatment of the oxidised varnishes and the pictorial surface using chemical and mechanical procedures due to the hardness and thickness of these layers. The support, which had become notably weakened, was given a surface clean and its distortions corrected. A new stretcher with a floating lining system was attached. Losses to the surface were then filled in with gesso and reintegrated. Finally the work was re-varnished and given a conservation frame with a cellular polycarbonate protection sheet on the reverse.
(San Sebastián, 1946-2001)
Oil on canvas. 195 x 114 cm
Acquired in 1988
This is a vertical composition divided horizontally into two equal halves with two similar landscapes depicted in the same palette of greens and greys that evokes the misty light of the north. Using resources derived from Surrealism, Ameztoy confuses the spectator's perception by including a distant viewpoint in the lower half and a nearer one in the upper half, joined by an atmospheric halo. The sense of mystery transmitted by nature in this work associates the artist with the concerns of the 19th-century Romantic painters.
(San Sebastián, 1946-2001)
Untitled [Poxpolinak (Arias Navarro)], ca.1978
Oil on canvas. 140 x 108 cm
Private donation in 2015
In this complex work Ameztoy uses a range of different elements and an evidently ironic tone to focus on political, cultural and environmental interference in the Basque Country. The duplicated image, in black and white and in colour, of the Francoist politician Carlos Arias Navarro, dressed in the Basque regional costume invented by the regime's Female Section, is located in the Bizkaian landscape of Muskiz occupied by the Petronor refinery in the background and replanted with Monterrey pines in the foreground.
WORK UNDERTAKEN: These two canvases have been treated using fixed and moveable suction in order to consolidate the pictorial surface and correct the supports, which had small peripheral scratches that were also repaired. The surfaces of the fronts and backs were also cleaned. Finally, pigment losses and old areas of repainting were also chromatically adjusted. The new conservation frames have cellular polycarbonate backs.
ANTONIO GONZÁLEZ RUIZ
(Corella, Navarre, 1711-Madrid, 1788)
Saint Peter Nolasco, ca.1739
Oil on copper. 42.5 x 30 cm
Bequest of Don Laureano Jado in 1927
Antonio González Ruiz was one of the most notable painters in 18th-century Spain. He was court painter to Ferdinand VI and director general of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. Using a sober palette and a precise line, this small oil on copper by the artist is a devotional image of Saint Peter Nolasco, the founder of the Mercedarian Order.
WORK UNDERTAKEN: The pictorial surface was treated to remove oxidised varnishes and areas of retouching from earlier restorations. Having stabilised and consolidated the pictorial material, losses were filled in with gesso, the colour reintegrated and varnish applied. The copper support was treated to correct a bump. The new installation for the work's presentation includes a new frame with acrylic protection and a cellular polycarbonate back.
JUAN BERNABÉ PALOMINO
(Cordoba, 1692-Madrid, 1777)
Saint Peter Nolasco, 1739
Engraving on paper. 33.3 x 21.9 cm
Private donation in 2014
Juan Bernabé Palomino was an important 18th-century engraver, a nephew of the celebrated writer on art Antonio Palomino and son-in-law of the painter Antonio González Ruiz. Reproducing his father-in-law's composition, as the inscription at the lower edge states, he executed this engraving to commemorate the appointment in 1738 of José Antonio López de Mezquía from Álava as Master General of the Mercedarian Order.
WORK UNDERTAKEN: Restoration began with the removal of the secondary support and associated adhesive. Buckling to the surface of the paper was corrected and the support and associated inks consolidated. Finally, the losses were chromatically adjusted and a conservation mount supplied.
(Bilbao, 1842-Madrid, 1930)
12 drawings in charcoal and ink on laid paper, dated between 1875 and 1895
Acquired in 2007
Born in Bilbao, Laplaza principally worked in Madrid where he participated in important mural projects. The museum has around a hundred charcoal drawings by the artist depicting allegorical scenes, the seasons of the year, the arts and the theological Virtues, among others, which are preparatory sketches for the decoration of churches or palaces belonging to the Madrid aristocracy.
WORK UNDERTAKEN: Mechanical cleaning using specific brushes and rubbers was carried out. The supports were then chemically stabilised, buckling corrected and losses repaired with inserts. Finally, the losses were chromatically adjusted and conservation mounts supplied.