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by Archaeology Newsroom

Restoration and conservation of Konstantinos Parthenis’ burnt painting, “The Harvest”

In 1980 many paintings by Konstantinos Parthenis (1878-1967) were destroyed in a fire. Three of these paintings which were half-burnt, were taken to the Restoration Laboratory of the Greek National Gallery. In this article, the writer describes at length the methods of restoration and the many and complicated stages this process went through. During the last stage a question came up as to whether the restorers should intervene on the aesthetic appearance of the work of art. Specialists make a distinction between damage caused to a work of art by time and damage caused by violent causes such as fire. In the case of The Harvest, the painting had lost its aesthetic balance by such a violent cause. Therefore, in order to restore this damage, a choice of colours was made, based on Dr Umberto Baldini’s theory. This theory had been first applied to Cimabue’s Crucifixion at the church of Santa Croce in Florence. Later another idea prevailed in restoring The Harvest. The choice of colours was removed, as was the priming, leaving the canvas untouched. This leaves the lost parts of the painting exposed to the eye of the beholder who experiences a feeling of loss and disappointment rather than aesthetic pleasure.