As part of the conservation of The Phoebus Foundation’s modern and contemporary Latin American collection, Rafael Barradas’s painting The Party from 1910 is currently in the hands of Clara Bondia.
It showcases an expressive figurative style that predates Barradas’ renowned vibrationism. Within the artwork, his skills as a caricaturist shine through, evident in the joyful expressions and celebratory atmosphere exuded by the characters.
The oil paint layers on the canvas exhibit a modified format, with noticeable clear edge truncations in several areas. It is possible that these alterations were made either over time or by the artist during the creation process.
Through a comprehensive comparative analysis and empirical research, it was determined that the work was formerly lined using a resin wax system. It is evident that the initial adhesion between the pictorial layer and the canvas was inadequate, likely prompting the decision to conduct the lining treatment in the past.
The tonality of the artwork was slightly darkened by a layer of dirt on the surface, and it had developed a yellowish hue caused by the oxidation of a thin layer of varnish. The white layers of the dresses of the female figures were by far the most affected. Additionally, there were issues related to polychromy, including discoloration and the presence of thick overpainting that encroached upon portions of the original paint layer.
Due to the weak condition of the artwork, it was decided to perform several treatments, prioritizing minimal interventions with absolute respect for the artist’s original intentions.
The restoration process began with a two-stage cleaning procedure aimed at eliminating surface dirt and removing the discolored, oxidized varnish and overpainting. This restoration effort successfully revitalized the work, revealing the vibrant original colors. In the next phase, the missing polychromy was addressed by conducting both volumetric and chromatic reintegration. Finally, a thin protective varnish layer was applied to safeguard the piece.
This conservation project is part of a larger initiative focused on preserving the Latin American art collection of The Phoebus Foundation. It is a pleasure to treat this painting along with several other gems and return it to its original glory.