Facelifts & Make-overs - stories from our conservation studio
Peter Paul Rubens painted this woman’s face between 1620 and 1630. He also painted some of her clothing, but the remainder was largely completed by others. Research has revealed that the feathered beret and the fur-trimmed black cloak were added later. Some additions turned out to be from before 1700, while others, such as the blue in the cloak, date from the 18th century. An old copy of the painting shows the original appearance of the painting. You can also see this first stage in the X-ray of the Mauritshuis portrait.
This conservation project was accompanied by a whole host of ethical issues – in short: a real headache. What in this painting is original and what is not? And if it isn’t by Rubens, but was instead added in the 17th century, should you remove it or should you leave it? Our position is: if there is any doubt, we will not remove anything. Moreover, the old additions turned out to be difficult to remove, which is why the majority remained in place.