Friday, March 25, 2022

The Holy Face





My friend Michael Morris always believed I was blessed for having restored this third degree relic. He rescued the Holy Face and brought it to me for restoration. It was crumbling and lost. When Michael was sick, he had the mighty painting brought to his room and positioned on an easel by his bed. I have written the story of the painting and my restoration and will post it soon. The painting is now in the Dominican Diocese of San Francisco and I last saw it at Michael's memorial service. It holds a great power for me as it did for Michael and I have a copy framed in our home. 

Magnificat anima mea Dominum

* The article I added is about the gallery where the painting was restored. I worked there for five years until I moved to Italy. Mr. Van Dongen was a colorful character to say the least.  


7 comments:

  1. This is a fascinating painting, Evelyn. How old do you think it might be?

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    1. It is dated to mid-19th century. A convent in Chile was ravaged by an earthquake and was selling belongings to raise money for reconstruction. Michael bought the painting from the convent and thereby learned its history. My boss at the studio where I then worked restoring paintings offered to do the restoration for no cost to Michael. My boss was then terminally ill. Over the time as I was doing the work, my dear boss became convinced the painting was keeping him alive and refused to return it to Michael when the restoration was completed. The actual recovery by Michael was a story unto itself. The artist who did the framing was also involved and Michael, the very talented framer and I celebrated the paintings recovery at Musso and Franks.

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  2. A most interesting painting!

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  3. What were your steps taken in this conservation project? I'm curious about it's native condition before you began work on it.

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    1. Michael brought it in rolled in a piece of white cotton. The painting was not on stretcher bars, it was crumbling around the edges. Photos were taken, front and back and then it was set into a large tray. I cleaned the old varnish off with smoke cleaner and turpentine. Then the painting was relined with bees wax and resin. Once relined it was put back on stretcher bars. I then began the slowest part of the process by filling in cracks and then doing the in painting. When that was done, varnish. There were hitches with this painting and I will find the full article on it and post a link sometime. It took about 3 months or so to complete but as I said that was just the beginning of the drama.

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    2. This sort of restoration is very painstaking and it takes a good deal of patience and attention to detail. I know people who do this kind of work and it is a very arduous process. My hat is off to you!

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    3. Thanks! It paid the bills. If I could tolerate the fumes of the chemicals involved I would still be in it, but time ran out on that.

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