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22|01|20 Iberdrola-Museum Program 2019

Presentation of the Conservation and Restoration Programme

Iberdrola, a museum patron since 2001, promotes one of the museum's founding missions, namely to conserve its collection of artworks. With this goal in mind, works from the collection that need treatment have been chosen every year since 2013 through the Iberdrola–Museum Conservation and Restoration Programme. Additionally, in 2019 a new avenue of action was added for works that participate in the museum's temporary exhibitions. Thus, one drawing and 22 oil paintings from Ignacio Zuloaga 1870–1945 were treated, including one of the collection's masterpieces, Portrait of Countess Mathieu de Noailles (1913). Thirty-four works on paper and 95 oil paintings were treated from Isabel Baquedano. On Beauty and the Sacred, including Untitled (ca. 1972), which the museum recently acquired. Finally, a study was conducted of the drawing underlying Triptych of the Annunciation by Joos van Cleve, which the Cathedral of Santo Domingo de la Calzada (La Rioja) lent to the museum to be part of The Guest Work programme.

The works in the collection which are being presented for the first time include the one by Mamerto Segui acquired in 2018, which allows this unique Bilbao artist to join the museum's collection with one of his most important works. The number of Regoyos works is also increasing with the landscape donated in 2019. Finally, 24 drawings by Laplaza are being displayed, concluding the recovery of the set of 112 drawings which began in the 2014 Iberdrola–Museum Programme.

By order in the exhibition, the restored works are: Portrait of the Painter's Wife and his Son Ricardo (ca. 1918) by Ricard Canals; Untitled (ca. 1972) by Isabel Baquedano; Portrait of Countess Mathieu de Noailles (1913) by Ignacio Zuloaga; Job and his Sons (ca. 1650) by Domenico Piola; Iron, Deposits (ca. 1900) by Darío de Regoyos; 38 drawings from the mid-19th century by Roberto Laplaza, a careful selection of which are being exhibited; Zamácola Dictating to his Scribes (1881) by Mamerto Segui; Portrait of Stéphane Mallarmé (1891) by Paul Gauguin; Musicians (ca. 1620–1623 ) by Pieter Fransz de Grebber; and Souk in Tangier  (ca. 1912) by Francisco Iturrino.

The treatments applied—consolidation of the paint and backs of the canvases, treatment of the surface layers, chromatic reintegration and mounting—optimised the works' state of conservation. Furthermore, the technical analyses—studies of the underlying drawing through infrared reflectography, X-rays and ultraviolet light—have yielded invaluable information for defining the proposed interventions and furthering our knowledge of the works and artists.


(Barcelona, 1876-1931)
Portrait of the Painter's Wife and his Son Ricardo, c. 1918
Oil on canvas
Contributed by the Provincial Council of Bizkaia in 1920

Room A

Acquired by the Provincial Council of Bizkaia at the First International Painting and Sculpture Exhibition held in Bilbao in 1919, this work by the Catalan painter and engraver Ricard Canals is a clear example of the early 20th-century Art Nouveau style, revealing its indebtedness to the Spanish School.

The preventative conservation checks revealed that the adhesion between the painted coatings and the canvas was compromised. Therefore, the painted surface was meticulously cleaned in order to optimise the consolidation of the layers of paint and restore the work's overall cohesion. Likewise, the necessary colour adjustments were made, and a structural damage on the frame which was causing deformations in the back of the canvas was repaired. The stretcher was also restored with a cleaning treatment and chromatic reintegration.


(Mendavia, Navarra, 1929 - Madrid, 2018)
Untitled, c. 1972
Oil on canvas
Acquired in 2019

Room E

Isabel Baquedano is one of the most unique figures in Spanish painting in the second half of the 20th century. The driving force behind the Pamplona School in the 1960s, she was highly respected in elite circles and regularly exhibited her work, which was affiliated with figuration, in both Madrid and the Basque Country.

The treatment of the work started with a preventative facing of the areas at risk of paint flaking. Once stabilised, the deformations on the back of the canvas were amended. The painting had a thick layer of dirt which was eliminated with an aqueous cleaning which restored the colour values. Then the paint was consolidated, the small losses were filled and chromatic integration was performed on the lacunas.


(Eibar, Gipuzkoa, 1870 - Madrid, 1945)
Portrait of Countess Mathieu de Noailles, 1913
Oil on canvas
Donated by Ramón de la Sota y Llano in 1919

Room F

The fame enjoyed by Zuloaga, whose success turned him into one of the most sought-after and internationally respected artists in the early 20th century, enabled him to accept countless commissions for the celebrities of his day, such as this one of the poetess Anna-Elisabeth de Brancovan.

A comprehensive technical study was conducted using X-rays, IR reflectography, ultraviolet light and the microscopic identification of materials. The data from these studies was combined with the existing documentation to trace the timeline of previous restorations of the painting, including the first one done by Zuloaga himself. The current process started with cleaning the surface of the layers of paint using an adjusted pH solution and adjusting the old retouchings and varnish. Finally, the deformations in the canvas were corrected with a mini low-pressure apparatus. 


(Genoa, Italy, 1628-1703)
Job and his Children, c. 1650
Oil on canvas
Acquired in 1923

Room H

When it entered the museum in 1923, this work was attributed to Giovanni Lanfranco, but the discovery of the signature during a previous restoration in 1995 brought to light the authorship of Domenico Piola, one of the leading representatives of the Italian Baroque Genovese School.

This oil painting, which clearly shows the influence of tenebrism, had some low-intensity degradation which made it difficult to view properly. The treatments consisted in cleaning the surface layers of painted surface and adjusting both the old retouches and the varnish. Importantly, the old frame, which was too invasive, was replaced with a frame that has been restored and adapted to this work; it was cleaned, its lost moulds replaced, and its gilding reintegrated. With this restoration, this magnificent painting can now be properly showcased. 


(Ribadesella, Asturias, 1857-Barcelona, 1913)
Iron, Deposits, c. 1900
Oil on panel
Donated by a private collection in 2019

Room I

Throughout his lifetime, Regoyos had a close relationship with the Basque Country through art and family and played a crucial role in modernising Basque painting. This small panel depicting a mining landscape in the town of Gallarta in Bizkaia entered the museum broken horizontally into two pieces. The presence of wood-eating insects was confirmed, and thus an anoxic treatment was performed.

The layers of paint showed deposits of organic and inorganic substances, colour alternations, especially in the sky, and a layer of surface dirt. The restoration began with the application of an adjusted pH gel solution and the removal of the organic and inorganic particles using a digital microscope. To conclude, the small losses were filled and reintegrated, the colour of the alterations was adjusted and a layer of low molecular weight varnish was applied.


(Bilbao, 1842-Madrid,1930)
Battle of Munoles 1869
Charcoal on paper
Acquired in 2007

Room L

Bilbao artist Roberto Laplaza spent most of his career in Madrid, where he trained in the academicism that prevailed in the mid-19th century. There, he secured the chair in drawing at the Arts and Crafts School and had an important career in easel painting and especially decorative painting.

The recovery of all 112 Laplaza drawings that started with the 2014 Iberdrola–Museum Programme is now concluded with the restoration of these drawings. The majority of drawings shared the same pathologies, including water marks, attacks from microorganisms and losses on the back of the painting. The painting was mechanically cleaned using brushes and specific erasers, and the paper was chemically stabilised. The deformations were corrected, and the losses were repaired with in-painting. Finally, any colour adjustments needed were made and the drawings were mounted in acid-free cardboard folders.


(Paris, 1848-Atuona, Marquesas Islands, 1903)
Portrait of Stéphane Mallarmé, 1891
Etching, burin and drypoint on paper
Acquired in 2019

Room L

Gauguin engraved the portrait of the critic and poet Stéphane Mallarmé in 1891 as a sign of friendship thanks to the assistance the latter had given him in selling some of his works to finance his journey to the Marquesas Island. The portrait of Mallarmé stands out not only for its unique style but also for being the only known etching in the artist's graphic output.

The paper had surface dirt and irregular yellowing, which was more pronounced in the areas exposed to light. Areas of foxing could also be found, along with creases, folds and deformations which indicated that the engraving had been stored rolled up. The intervention began with a surface cleaning using an electric eraser pen and localised treatment of the foxing stains and creases. To correct the acidity of the paper, it was deacidified from the back of the paper. Finally, the work was mounted in a conservation-grade folder. 


(Bilbao 1862 - 1908)
Zamacola Dictating to his Scribes, 1881
Oil on canvas
Acquired in 2018

Room S

Academically trained, Mamerto Segui stood out for historical painting. This work, which portrays the notary and politician Simón Bernardo de Zamacola defending the laws of Bizkaia, was displayed at the Provincial Exhibition of Bizkaia in 1882, where it won the silver medal. It reached the museum in a delicate state of conservation, as the back of the canvas and painted coatings had suffered from structural damage.

The restoration started on the surface layer by eliminating the yellowing varnish and retouchings that covered part of the original paint. Particularly noteworthy was the treatment of the back of the canvas, which consisted in repairing two large tears which had previously been restored and reinforcing the original canvas with a secondary back or double lining. To conclude, any losses were filled, the colour was reintegrated on the numerous, extensive lacunas and it was varnished using a low molecular weight resin.


(Haarlem, the Netherlands, c. 1600-c. 1652/1653)
Musicians, c. 1620-1623
Oil on canvas
Donated by María de Arechavaleta, from the collection of José Palacio, in 1953

Room V

Specialised in portraits and religious scenes, Grebber made very few Costumbrist paintings, so this musical scene—a recurring theme in 17th-century Dutch painting—is an exception within his output and is also one of his earliest known works.

The most noteworthy aspect of the treatment of this work was its cleaning. First, the surface dirt was removed, and then the yellowing varnish and old discoloured retouches were eliminated. The restoration concluded with the chromatic reintegration of small losses and the final varnish. Thanks to this intervention, the intensity of the colour has been restored, especially on the faces and clothing. Before entering the museum, this work had been lined and the stretcher had been changed, and given their stability they were left in place.


(Santander 1864 - Cagnes-sur-Mer, France, 1924)
Souk of Tangier, c. 1912
Oil on canvas
Acquired in 1931

Room Z

Iturrino's work falls within a strain of Post-Impressionism that verges on Fauvism because of its particular use of light and colour. It also reveals the influence of artists in the painter's circle like Renoir, Derain, Picasso and particularly Matisse, with whom he travelled to southern Spain in 1910 and Morocco in 1912, when Souk in Tangier was painted.

After a technical study of the painting, the restoration began by cleaning the layers of paint, first removing the surface dirt using an aqueous medium and then removing the yellowed varnish with a mix of solvents. Furthermore, the structural repair of the stretcher corrected the deformation of the back of the canvas. To conclude, the chromatic adjustments needed were made, and a layer of low molecular weight varnish was applied.






Iberdola Museo Programme
Grants Programme
Fundación Iberdrola