A gift from a son We were asked to restore this carved wooden statue of Saint Joseph and the child Jesus by a local man, who had bought it some years ago in an antique shop for his mother. The seller had said it was carved in France, and hailed from the 1850's. As we regularly restore statuary from this period, I'd happily agree with the seller's appraisal. It had not fared well over the years. It stood 57 inches tall and around 30 inches wide. Only experience can tell if a statue in this sort of condition can or cannot be restored. Sometimes one has to say no, unfortunately it’s too late.
When it was new
When the statue first emerged fresh from the sculptor’s studio (possible Raffl?) It would have been covered in what I call gothic “wallpaper”. Although the decorative covering had long gone, the copper element in the gold paint had stained the old gesso, leaving a ghostly trace of its former appearance.
Since then, the statue of Saint Joseph and the infant Jesus had been repainted several times finally arriving at this buff – (grey?) appearance and finished with gold edged garments.
What we did
The statue was repaired, cleaned and prepared, then layers of traditional gesso applied.
Once fully dry, the gesso was shaped and sanded to match the curves and forms originally created by the sculptor.
The statue was painted in colours found on the statue; and as most of the original decoration was missing, I designed a repeat pattern appropriate for the period, and drew it to scale before painting it onto the statue.
Finally, we added a wooden fascia to the base of the statue, and a dedication to our client's beloved mother.
Thankfully, the restoration did not come too late to save the statue. I will let the photos tell the rest of the story; our client was very happy with the results.