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Title: Large Format Historical Painting Restoration Project for the reopening of the Museu Paulista

Author: Raul Carvalho

Institution: Atelier Raul Carvalho Conservação e Restauro de Obras de Arte Ltda.

City: São Paulo, Brazil


The present work deals with the Restoration Project of 22 large-format paintings, belonging to the collection of the Museu Paulista of the University of São Paulo, between the months of October 2021 and July 2022, which recovered the important historical paintings for the reopening of the museum, closed about 10 years ago. The restoration of the paintings was part of an ambitious project for the complete restoration of the historic building, inaugurated on September 7, 1895. In its new phase, the museum opens its doors on September 7, 2022, on the occasion of the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the independence of Brazil. The paintings, of an educational nature, are of paramount importance as they depict national historical scenes and underwent a last restoration treatment over 50 years ago. The paintings had serious structural problems and 21 works of the 22 were lining with wax-resin. The wax lining technique was brought to Brazil by Edson Motta (1910-1981), an important restorer, professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, from 1945 to 1980, and a pioneer in the so-called formal scientific restoration in Brazil, after his passage through the USA, at the Fogg Museum, at Harvard University, Cambridge, USA. Following the Dutch tradition of Nicolaus Hoppmann, Edson makes some adaptations to the wax-resin formula used in Brazil, where, in addition to beeswax and paraffin, he adds a percentage of carnauba wax and uses rosin (rosin) as resin. The coverings practiced at the Museu Paulista, carried out by a former student of Edson Motta, followed this tradition, however, with excess wax impregnating the pictorial layer, which caused problems such as total impregnation, alteration of pigment saturation and darkening of light areas. .All the coverings were mechanically removed and, due to the fragility of the supports, other coverings were carried out, with pure linen and Beva 371, using the envelope technique, developed by G. Berger (1920-2006). On the other hand, the varnish applied to the works over 50 years ago, based on natural terpene resins, applied irregularly with a brush, was carefully removed, as were the repainting layers, which in many cases covered large areas of the original material. Concurrently with the restoration work, a team of scientists, coordinated by Professor Marcia Rizzuto, from the University of São Paulo, carried out the image exams necessary to support the work of aesthetic intervention in the works. The imaging exams comprised Infrared Reflectography, X-Ray Diffraction, Ultraviolet Fluorescence and Raman Microscopy. The data were tabulated for the Museu Paulista archives.

The initiative of the Museu Paulista, with support from the Government and the private sector, was of fundamental importance for the study and better understanding of the state of conservation of a large part of the collection. This study should continue after the reopening of the Museum, with new facilities and incentives for research.

Raul Carvalho

Senior Painting Conservator


Nossa Equipe

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