Chromatic reintegration in The Santi’s Workshop

Pechina San Gregorio restaurada

Chromatic reintegration is the treatment that is followed to cover the original paint faults in the pictorial or polychrome works during the restoration process.

Regardless of the size or space to be reintegrated, the treatment has limitations. These meet the following criteria; differentiation and reversibility.

Before and after chromatic reintegration
Before and after chromatic reintegration

In the process of chromatic reintegration, the criterion of not covering and respecting the original preserved surface must be understood in its final phase. That is, the last pictorial layer. It must be taken into account that any restorative intervention, even conservative when not strictly preventive, can be considered invasive. And this “invasion” must adhere to conservation and non-aesthetic considerations. Hence the ultimate aspect of the preserved original should be preserved as much as possible.

Criteria of chromatic reintegration in this work

These criteria have the same consideration and importance when it comes to works of devotion. But unlike archaeological and purely documentary works, in this case the treatment is not restricted to preserving the reading of the object or document as original as possible and “without additions”.

Chromatic reintegration process of the scallop of San Agustin
Chromatic reintegration process of the scallop of San Agustin

In the case of exhibition spaces, museums, galleries and devotion, such as the one that concerns us in the Church of La Cartuja Baja, the criteria are the same. But it seeks to mitigate and minimize the differentiation between the added and the original. For which the tones and shapes are adjusted more. In this way, priority is given to the more general view of the viewer, to the informative reading of the subject and its initial and original narrative intention. It is as a guarantee of not interfering with the original, in addition to not invading the physical space, using a differentiating technique in chromatic reintegration. And this, both materially and aesthetically. A different technique is used paying attention to its reversibility. And this without prejudice to the original, that is, that it can be easily removed if it causes damage to the original.

It is the case of this penny of the church of the Immaculate Concepción de la Cartuja Baja in Zaragoza, and from the side walls of the presbytery. Where there were large faults and gaps of original paint. In both cases, painted decoration had to be restored following the criteria described. But since it was a place with devotional and expository function, the chromatic reintegration was adjusted, if possible, to the original and the environment. In this way there is a continuous reading of the rehabilitated complex, both aesthetically and in the narrative.

Chromatic reintegration of scallop

It was the penny that corresponded to the representation of St. Augustine, doctor of the Catholic Church, who appeared lost in more than 80%. I intervened with the collaboration of the restorer María Maza, rebuilding the complex, following the guidelines and dimensions, distances, etc., that the consolidated remains had left us.

Detail of chromatic reintegration of the hand
Detail of chromatic reintegration of the hand

Among the remains, already desalted and consolidated, appeared in the form of marks, synopia and subsections, the place they occupied head, hand, angel, etc. Which gave us an approximate idea of the pose and general composition. Both at the base and the grated (regattino) we proceeded with watercolors.

Reintegration in the presbytery

There was also the need for chromatic reintegration in the side walls of the presbytery. There, framing, there were remains of what would be a feigned upholstery with Damascus fabric. These remains allowed us to extract a template with which we could successfully rebuild the sequence of the series to be developed.

Detail of the chromatic reintegration of the fake damask fabric upholstery
Detail of the chromatic reintegration of the fake damask fabric upholstery

The reconstruction was carried out with different shades of pastel pigments. Plus the gum arabic with which it was fixed and consolidating the successive layers.

The restoration works of the church of La Concepción de La Cartuja Baja took place during the years 2010 to 2012. Under the direction of the architect D. Teodoro Rios and the coordination of Jose Antonio Rodriguez Martín of the restoration team of the company Fidias Trade S.L.

Photographs of the process and end of Jose Antonio Rodriguez Martín.

Chromatic reintegration process on cover with fake paint
Chromatic reintegration process on cover with fake paint

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