Changing Colours

Restoring a statue of Saint Joan of Arc.



Restoring Statue of Saint Joan Visionary & Martyr

We are much accustomed to seeing St. Joan dressed in armour ready for battle, yet this lovely statue by Rafl of Paris depicts St. Joan in a more subdued mood during one of her visions. In this attitude, she reminds us that being attentive to God's voice, prepares us for life's battles. Once restored the statue's new home will be a Girl's school in France.


Surface damage

I am uncertain why the statue had been " repaired" with a mixture of yellow ochre paint and gritty caulk. The repairs lacked the subtelty of hte original modelling, and suggested little attempt had been made to make them 'invisible'

Some of the bad repairs I find on otherwise lovely statuary cannot be fathomed by reason alone. I file them mentally under " attempted repairs" so that I do not get too distracted from the task in hand by asking " why oh why?"

For example this delicately modelled foot, with the breaks unsympathetically 'disguised' suggest that Saint Joan was so wrapped up in her vision that she accidentally stepped in a puddle of Dijon mustard...


Uncovering Flesh tones


This image is a clip from one of Julian Baumgartner's videos on painting

restoration.

I chose it to illustrate how surface grime can significantly alter the colours of an artwork, from those the artist originally intended.

As he removes old surface grime from the young girl's face, we can see how very different the tones of her sister's face appear before treatment. When a restorer discovers that the original colours differ significantly from those the owner perceived them to be, it can be a little problematic; althoug I find most clients are quite excited at the prospect of the original polychromy being revealed.


The Chartres Madonna


The statue of the virgin and child known as the Black Madonna at Chartres Cathedral was recently restored to her original appearance to keep the integrity of the splendid interior of a tenth century Cathedral.

Some who had lived only a fraction of the years of the madonna statue, were piqued by this, as they had always known the Madonna with dark features. Even thouth this discolouration was a sign that the statue was in a state of deterioration, they argued that it should have been left this way.


Needless to say I am on the side of the restorers. A good restoration preserves a figure from further deterioration, and returns it to the glorious appearance it once had for future generations to admire. Restoring a statue to its original splendour, gives us historical insight into the aesthetics of the culture at the time it was created. The tonal pigmentation of the colours also can provide information as to which technologies were available during that period in order to create the paints used.


Back to restoring St. Joan

To restore this statue of St. Joan I had first to remove all of the hardened yellow repair works and surface grime. A lot of old browned surface varnish was also removed, showing a pinkish tone to the flesh, similar to those in the painting of the young girls, shown earlier in this post.


I remodelled the broken nose and fingers directly in plaster. The statue was repainted following the original colours and finishes.

I foudn that the hair which had appeared mid brown because of the covering of yellow, was actually a rather dark brown.

The skirt which was denim blue, had red ochre in the shadow tones.



As for the pedestal, the little shield and surrounding foliage sprang to life once they were repaired and their colours restored.


see more on our saints restored page.



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