Rubens' self-portrait to be restored
December 13 2016
I was glad to discover that one of the Rubenshuis museum's star pictures - his c.1630 self-portrait - is to be restored. At the moment it is rather obscured by a thick and plastic-looking layer of varnish, which in normal viewing conditions has the effect of deadening the painting. The varnish, one of the newer 'synthetic' varnishes, was applied no doubt with good intentions during an earlier restoration, in the hope of avoiding the fate of traditional organic varnishes, which go yellow.
As is so often the case in conservation, every generation of restorer's is convinced they've got the best solution to a problem. But in fact they're just storing up trouble for the next generation of conservators.
The picture will leave the Rubenshuis in January, and be back on display in 2018.