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Restoration Project of the Golden Gallery

Published on the 21/12/10

Introdution

The restoration carried out by the Heritage Restoration Institute at the Polytechnic University of Valencia has enabled us to recover the original beauty of the canvases in the Golden Gallery of the Ducal Palace, a unique pictorial collection in the region of Valencia, (for its size). Dating from the late Valencian Baroque, between 1710 and 1712, the five works have a great format and take up more than 250 meters of painting on canvas. Furthermore, they have the peculiarity that, in spite of being painted directly on the ceiling, they are canvases stuck to the ceiling.

Built in the early eighteenth century on the occasion of the canonization of Saint Francis Borgia, this architectural work consists of a succession of five rooms with views into the Bamboo Garden. It gets its name from the profusion of golden ornaments and carved wood items that cover the entire entablature and the carved porticos which divide each of the five rooms.

Conservation level

These paintings were in a very precarious condition due to damage caused by water leaks, aging and improper manipulations carried out in previous restorations.

Restoration Process

The proposed intervention, focusing on the restoration of the paintings that decorate the ceilings of the Golden Gallery, is raised in order to prevent further deterioration and promote the conservation and preservation of their stylistic and historical values.

In the first place, the painting has been strengthened and analytical and laboratory studies have been made to try to determine all the previous interventions. This type of intervention is made in order to recover the traces of the original artist, Gaspar de la Huerta.

Furthermore, as each fabric was in a different condition, some of them needed a special cleaning in order to restore the original colours. Thus, despite the fact that the process has been extremely careful and not intrusive, the paintings have recovered the colour and brightness characteristic of the eighteenth century.

Disassembly Process

The assembly and disassembly of the paintings of Gaspar de la Huerta has been one of the more dangerous phases of the restoration given the size of the pieces, weight and monumentality. To carry out this work, the staging of a fairly large team of researchers was required. During the removal of the paintings, the restorers had to take into account not to damage the golden decoration of the corridor. For this purpose, an innovative rail system has been used.

All the frames have been preserved and they are those used by the artist, with the exception of the frame of the Holy Family Hall, replaced in the seventies by a new one. After being removed and reinforced with aluminium, the frames had to be raised without the paintings to verify that the rail system worked perfectly. Once certified, the frame was lowered and adapted to the canvas. All the paintings were raised in the third room of the Golden Gallery, which is the largest, called the 'Glorification Hall', and once they were up they were moved from one room to another until each painting reached its original location.

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