As usual at The Phoebus Foundation, conservation and research go hand in hand. A beautiful example is The Virgin of the Candlelight, an anonymous Peruvian work on canvas from the 18th century which is part of the collection Latin-American art from the Colonial period. Conservator Carlos González Juste offers a glimpse behind the scenes of the research and conservation of this remarkable painting!

Anonymous, The Virgin of the Candlelight, 18th century (before treatment)

‘Due to the thinness of the paint layer, it was already visible to the naked eye that there might be a previous painting underneath the current composition. Technical studies (IRR photography, x-ray images, MA-XRF scanning and wood analysis) have confirmed our suspicions and have revealed the existence of a completely finished painting underneath!’

Varnish and overpaint removal

‘With the conservation treatment and research of The Virgin of the Candlelight, we not only try to preserve the physical integrity of the artwork and recover its original colourful and delicate appearance. We also increase our knowledge about the techniques, materials and habits of the 17th and 18th century painting practices in Peru.’

Detail of the Virgin of the Candlelight with normal light (left) and x-ray image of the same area (right)