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Caring for the Kings pictures: artists and restorers in the

Spanish
by ZAHIRA VLIZ AND NGEL ATERIDO

THE HABSBURG KINGS of Spain, all assiduous collectors, were the king (pintor de Cmara) was directly under the authority of the
keenly aware of the value of works of art, both as propaganda for summiller de corps in the Cmara (privy Chamber/Council), while
their dynasty and for their aesthetic value. This article begins in also having responsibilities within the Furriera (Royal Household),
the reign of Philip II, the first of the Spanish Habsburgs to import the administrative department responsible for the stewardship of
works of art from Italy and the Low Countries in prodigious the kings domestic surroundings and furnishings, including his
numbers.1 Countless paintings were acquired by his agents, packed paintings, which was supervised by the mayordomo mayor (High
and shipped by sea and overland to reach Philips court in Madrid, Steward) and the aposentador (Master of the Household). Officers
five hundred kilometres from the coast, as well as his other royal of the Furriera were responsible for the routine maintenance, as
palaces. Inevitably, works of art travelling such distances suffered well as the selection, display and care of paintings in the kings
physically, and when they reached the court, they were often palace, which reflected the monarchs magnificence both to his
in need of restoration to be dignified before they were put on courtiers and his visitors. The pintor de Cmara had the unique
display.2 The earliest document cited here describes the activity privilege of portraying the monarch, and, although other duties
of an artist-restorer in the Spanish court in 1576, and the most related to the office were fluid and ad hoc, those concerning
modern dates from 1814, on the eve of the foundation of the the care and display of the kings collections were undertaken
Museo del Prado. Between these dates, documents in the Spanish within the purview of the Furriera office. For this reason, the
archives show that the role of the restorer evolved from that of pintor de Cmara was also one of the few members of the kings
artistrestorer, to caretaker of the Royal Collection and finally household entrusted with a master key to all the rooms in the
to specialist restorer, and that all these roles were played within palace. From the time of Philip II, official court artists (pintores del
the unique structure of the administration of the Spanish court.3 rey) working on royal commissions were administratively under the
There are decrees of appointment, letters of payment, inventories, direction of the Junta de Obras y Bosques (Council of Works and
invoices, requests for salary increases and lists of materials and Forests), yet another executive council (on which the mayordomo
equipment. Most are internal documents, sent to and from the mayor usually sat) charged with the care and management of
artists and court officials who surrounded the king and administered the buildings, land and forests belonging to the crown. The
his household. From an early date, restoration occupied its own kings official artists received both instruction and remuneration
place in the complex apparatus of the court in Habsburg Spain. from this administrative section, a measure adopted by Philip II
In 1561 Philip II, who ruled his Spanish kingdom from 1556 to when he brought dozens of artists to work on the building and
1598, ordained that the Spanish court, which had been peripatetic, embellishment of his palaces in and around Madrid. By moving
should henceforth be established in Madrid, geographically at this large body of artists from the supervision of the Cmara, their
the centre of the Iberian peninsula. The medieval Alczar Palace salaries were no longer budgeted under the kings household costs,
in Madrid became the principal royal residence. The story of but through a separate administrative entity. Nevertheless, their
restoration of paintings in the Spanish Royal Collection unfolds work might sometimes be supervised by the pintor de Cmara,
here, and at numerous other palaces, or reales sitios, within a short who received a salary for his office and the privilege of a studio
distance from Madrid and includes San Lorenzo del Escorial, the or workroom within the palace. Responsibility for the physical
Palace of Aranjuez, El Pardo, La Granja and the Palace of the condition and display of the colossal Royal Collection fell to the
Buen Retiro. pintor de Cmara, but the practical, hands-on care was executed
To appreciate the rise of the professional artistrestorer at the under the aegis of the Furriera. Seventeenth-century documents
Spanish court, it is necessary to understand the structure of the show that some of the assistants of the Furriera were appointed
court, which had developed from the complex Burgundian system specifically for their ability to help with the repair of paintings, and
of court etiquette and administration. Artistic matters fell under they were charged with the responsibility to clean the paintings.4
the direction of the mayordomo mayor (Lord High Steward) and the Instructions and recipes for treatment appear in art treatises of the
summiller de corps (Lord Chamberlain) (Fig.01). The first painter to period, suggesting that to clean, treat and varnish damaged or

1
The inventory of goods belonging to Queen Isabel the Catholic (reg. Castile 2
An awareness of the risk to artworks being transported across unmade roads and
14691504 correct?) at the Alczar of Segovia in 1503 suggests that paintings in the rough terrain is evident in the frequent employment of men to hand-carry important
collection of her great-grandson Philip II that originate from her collection were pieces. See, for example, A. Aterido: El final del Siglo de Oro. La pintura en Madrid en
probably numbered in the dozens rather than the hundreds; see J. Ferrands, ed.: el cambio dinstico 16851726, Madrid 2015, p.369, note 249; and Simancas, Archivo
Datos inditos para la historia del arte espaol, 3: Inventarios reales (Juan II a Juana la General de Simancas (hereafter cited as AGS), Direccin General del Tesoro,
loca), Madrid 191443, pp.6969 (please check) and passim. For Philip IIs inventory, inventario 24, leg.841.
see F.J. Snchez Cantn: Inventarios reales: Bienes muebles que pertenecieron a Felipe II, 3
Much of the relevant documentation is preserved in Madrid, Archivo General de
Madrid 1956, I. Palacio (hereafter cited as AGP). Other relevant documents are in the AGS; Madrid,

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darkened works were skills expected of the accomplished master surface. Palomino advises that this varnish is best used in cool
artist. weather because in the heat it can cause a blanched appearance
The painter Francisco Pacheco (15641664) published his book when it dries.9 Other methods for removing old varnish from a
El arte de la pintura in 1649,5 and his advice may reflect methods painting proved necessary:
being used at that time. Pacheco describes how to clean paintings:
old oil paintings on canvas or panel may be reconstituted and when it has been varnished by someone without understanding,
made bright again by cleaning without risking the paint when they and of course when it has become opaque or bloomed; or if it
have been darkened by smoke and varnish. If they are canvases has been washed with water and the surface appears the colour
without risk of flaking, they are placed in the sun for half a day; of ashes; or if it is very heavy and too shiny to allow enjoyment
if they are panels, in the night air for two nights; then, with a of the painting. Those who know nothing consider that shiny
small amount of sifted common ash at the ready, the painting varnishes are the most perfect [. . .]; on the contrary a perfect
is bathed with water, and the powdered ash is sprinkled over varnish is saturated but not over shiny. So these are the methods
it and with a sponge one washes gently, more or less according I know of for removing varnish (although, I have not personal
to how well the whites are becoming lighter and rinsing the experience of any). The first is with normal oil, quite hot,
sponge frequently in clean water, and this will clean the painting but not so much that it burns, and with a stiff brush (and the
to the desired appearance. Take care not to use too heavy a hand, painting also warmed) pass over the surface by parts, not all at
because this can remove the paint. This method is reserved for once, until the old varnish comes away, and after cleaning it
oil paintings because should the paint be tempera, it cannot bear with bread, apply some hot walnut oil in turpentine and allow
this cleaning. When the old painting is thus cleaned, it may be it to soak in for four to six hours as one wishes, and then clear
varnished and given lustre with a light varnish . . ..6 Much of the the surface with bread crumb. This is the perfect varnish to
advice recorded by Pacheco is problematic insofar as the effect of saturate old paintings and give them back some substance that
the solvents and oils he describes on the original paint layer could has been consumed by time.10
be irreversible, even in the hands of a sensitive and skilled restorer;
in the hands of a less accomplished practitioner, their use could be Palomino tells us that some prefer to use a cut onion rather than
disastrous. Judgment and skill would be essential for these cleaning a brush for varnish removal.11 Concluding this section Palomino
techniques if serious damage were to be avoided. Pacheco does writes, The other way to remove the varnish from a painting is
not comment on the structural treatment of paintings. Then, as with nitric acid (agua fuerte de plateros), applying it over the painting
now, there was often a division of labour between those who with a soft brush, and with care not to let it carry off the paint.
treated the structure of the work of art, by relining, for instance, The paint will be very dry and matt after this operation, so it may
and those who cleaned and restored the image. Although this is be revived with walnut oil and turpentine, and in this way it looks
never explicitly stated in the documents, it is often implied, as the as if it had just been painted.12 This procedure, of course, is highly
opinion expressed in 1743 about one practitioner: 35 reales for risky for the original paint layer. Nitric acid is used for etching
each day he works is sufficient pay [. . .] since the ability of [this metal plates, and even the action of a dilute or reduced form of
man] only goes so far as to be able to line and clean [paintings], this reagent on varnish and paint would be difficult to control.
but not to apply his hand to restoring [. . .] this artists judgment It was deemed that an accomplished artist should, at the very
is not the most exquisite.7 least, have an understanding of the methods of cleaning paintings.
An artist of a later generation, Antonio Palomino (16531726), Since Francisco Pacheco was the father-in-law and first teacher
who was appointed court painter to King Charles II in 1688, of Diego Velzquez (15981660), it is possible that the cleaning
also provides information on restoration techniques in his Museo methods he described in El arte de la pintura influenced the
pictrico y escala ptica (The Museum of Painting and Optical Scale techniques Velzquez and his assistants employed on works in
is this translation correct?).8 He gives recipes for varnishes made the Royal Collection. Cleaning and restoring paintings formed
of such ingredients as mastic, walnut oil, turpentine, copal gum and an essential part of the care of pictures in the Royal Collection
sandarac, and advises that varnishes made of the latter resin must be and contributed to the presentation of the paintings (composicin)
applied warm or hot to avoid a bloom appearing and ruining the in the rooms of the palace; the sovereigns magnificence was
painting; he also suggests that oil of spike lavender could help to reflected in his surroundings, and the pintor de Cmara, working
remedy this problem. Palominos text includes a detailed reference with his assistants in the Furriera, had to ensure that the quality
to a varnish of egg white that at least does not risk the painting and condition of the monarchs paintings in no way diminished
since it can always be removed by simply washing the surface with his prestige.
water and a sponge, and thus accumulations of smoke and fly spots As part of his creation of a central Spanish capital with a court
are also removed. One should then re-varnish with thoroughly worthy of its ruling dynasty, Philip II not only renovated old palaces
beaten egg white that is like snow distributed evenly over the and built new ones but, in order to decorate them appropriately,

Archivo Histrico Nacional (hereafter cited as AHN); and Madrid, Archivo de accessory to the art of Painting, and important for he who aspires to its practice).
Protocolos. The author stresses that he does not have personal knowledge of these methods. This
4
Aterido, op. cit. (note 2), pp.32425. seems surprising since we know that Palomino was involved, at the very least in an
5
F. Pacheco: El Arte de la Pintura, ed. B. Bassegoda i Hugas, Madrid 1990, book 3. advisory role, with the treatment of paintings in the Royal Collection.
6
Ibid., p.394.
9
Ibid., pp.21920.
7
AGP, Legajo 17, Aranjuez, Patrimonios; cited in M.L. Barreno Sevillano: La
10
Ibid., p.223.
restauracin de pinturas de las colecciones reales durante el siglo XVIII, Archivo
11
Ibid. It is possible that naturally occurring chelating agents in onions and garlic may
espaol de arte 53/212 (1980), p.474. have played a role in their use for picture cleaning, and it is possible that garlic also
8
A. Palomino y Velasco: Museo pictorico y escala ptica, Madrid 1724, II, p.223, book 9, had a degree of effectiveness as a fungicide.
chapter 15, section 5, is entitled De algunas curiosidades, y secretos accessories a la Pintura,
12
Ibid.
y de importancia para el que la professa (On some curious and secret information

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CARING FOR THE KINGS PICTURES

he imported works of art both from his Netherlandish realms praised shortly after the kings death in 1598 by Gaspar Gutirrez
and succeeded also in acquiring major works from Italy, and de los Ros, who commented upon the infinite honours that His
in particular from Venice. When it finally became clear that, most religious and holy majesty King Philip conceded to those
in response to Philips overtures, neither Titian, Tintoretto nor practitioners of these Arts, and the great humanity and gentility
Veronese would emigrate to Spain to take on the decoration of with which he treated them.16
the Escorial, the king turned to the Spanish-born, Italian-trained Philip II had many opportunities to interact with artists. He
Juan Fernndez Navarrete, called El Mudo (c.15381579), who employed scores of them to decorate the palaces he was building
was commissioned to paint religious canvases for the numerous (El Escorial, El Pardo, Aranjuez) or renovating (Palace of the
side altars in the basilica of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Real Alczar, Madrid) throughout his reign. His actions suggest
It was to El Mudo that Philip II also entrusted the restoration of he believed it was incumbent on him to transform the provincial
Rogier van der Weydens Descent from the Cross in 1576 (Fig.02). town he had chosen to be his urban capital and its surrounding
The panel was some 140 years old at that date, and the climactic countryside into a setting appropriate to the most powerful
changes it had experienced, as well as its transportation overland monarchy in the world.
after apparently suffering a shipwreck at sea, had caused the A pragmatic administrator, Philip II initiated changes in the
wooden panels to split. The work was of singular significance to organisation of the royal household, which were necessary in
this devout monarch, as is evident from Philips careful instructions light of the many dozens of artists he employed to embellish the
to the artist: El Mudo will restore it, painting in what has been Escorial, but also in the building and decoration of the other reales
lost of the colours in the costumes and background, but he is not sitios near Madrid. It was during this time that artists dedicated to
to touch either the expression nor the headdress of Our Lady, nor the restoration and physical care of the kings paintings emerged.
any other thing that is not costume or background, as I showed By the mid-seventeenth century, when the palace building
him this day.13 The restoration of losses of paint was probably boom was over, there was no longer the need for so many
carried out using a walnut or linseed oil, then, as now, after the artists, and the arm of the administration Philip had created to
stabilisation of the complex panel support, which is composed accommodate this workforce, the Junta de Obras y Bosques,
of numerous planks. The structural repair was carried out by became redundant (Fig.01). One constant in this story, however,
Gilles de Boullon, a master-joiner in the kings service. Navarrete was the post of pintor de Cmara (artist of the Privy Chamber),
and Boullon were to work together again on at least one other which in Philip IIs reign and throughout the seventeenth century
occasion, when Rogier van der Weydens Crucifixion (Patrimonio was invested with the privilege of access to the person of the
Nacional, Real Monasterio del Escorial), which was brought to king and to the private apartments as well as to all the rooms in
Spain by Philip from Brussels in around 1559, required similar the palace.
treatment after the overland journey from Segovia to the Escorial The pattern of a special relationship between a monarch and his
in 1567 caused the planks comprising the panel on which it was favourite court artist that had started with Philip II was repeated
painted to separate at the joints.14 Navarrete El Mudo made a and even strengthened during the seventeenth century. Alonso
copy of this painting around this time, attesting to his ability to Snchez Coello,17 Peter Paul Rubens18 and Bartolom Carducho19
imitate the hand of the original artist, a skill of great value in are among those artists documented as restoring paintings in the
discreet and sensitive restorations. Navarrete had not been dead Spanish Royal Collection, although, as was the case of Navarrete,
for long before one of his own paintings required repair, which restoration was by no means their principal activity.20 Until the
was carried out in May 1587.15 mid-seventeenth century the physical care of paintings in the
The personal relationship between the Spanish Habsburg Royal Collection was arranged on an ad hoc basis by or under
monarchs and their artists is reflected in the degree to which El the auspices of the pintor de Cmara. For example, the eminent
Mudo was trusted to care for one of the kings most treasured court artist Alonso Cano (160167) was responsible for restoring
possessions, and also in the fact that the king spoke directly to the paintings damaged in a fire at the Buen Retiro Palace in 1640.
artist, not through a secretary or another agent. Philips attitude Although the palace itself was governed by Philip IVs favourite
towards practitioners of the arts painting in particular was and chief minister, the Count-Duke Olivares, who was also Canos

13
la aderece el Mudo, pintando lo que est saltado de los colores de las vestiduras y en el campo, Noticia general para la estimacin de las artes, Madrid 2006: Pues si comenzara por las
mas no ha de tocar en el gesto ni tocado de Nuestra Seora, ni en otra cosa que no sea vestido honras infinitas que hizo a los profesores destas Artes la magestad del mismo religiossimo y
o campo como lo seal hoy; J. Zarco Cuevas: Pintores espaoles en San Lorenzo el Real de santo Rey Filipo, y por la mucha humanidad y suavidad con que los trataba, bien se ve que
el Escorial (15751613), Madrid 1931, p.30. Philip IIs particular esteem for Rogier van sera meterme en un golfo grande para quedarme ahogado en l (Were I to begin to cite
der Weydens art was shared by other members of his family. His great-grandfather the infinite honours bestowed on the practitioners of these Arts by the majesty of
Juan II of Castile, his grandmother, Queen Isabel the Catholic, and his aunt Mary this most religious and holy King Philip, and the great humanity and gentleness with
of Hungary, Regent of the Netherlands, all owned devotional works by Van der which he treated them, I well know that the quantity of such instances would soon
Weyden. The Descent from the Cross was acquired by Philip from Mary of Hungary, overwhelm me as a swimmer may be in deep water).
brought to Spain in the 1550s and served as the altarpiece in the provisional church 17
Zarco Cuevas, op. cit. (note 13), p.172. Extract from a document recording payment
of the Escorial from 1574. to Snchez Coello for restoration: dos cientos reales que uvo de aver de dos reparos que
14
L. Campbell, ed.: exh. cat. Rogier van der Weyden, Madrid (Museo del Prado) 2015, hizo en dos retablos que estavan estragados de viejos en el dicho Monasterio, concertadopor los
pp.6061. This monumental panel suffered again in the fire at the Escorial in 1671, dichos doscientos reales (two hundred reales that were owing for two restorations that
and has recently been restored in a collaborative project between the Patrimonio he completed for two badly damaged old altarpieces that were in this Monastery).
Nacional and the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. 18
M. Jaff: Rubens and Italy, Oxford 1977, pp.6769.
15
Zarco Cuevas, op. cit. (note 13), p.287, doc.10. 19
Zarco Cuevas, op. cit. (note 13), pp.28196.
16
G. Gutirrez de los Ros: Noticia general para la estimacin de las Artes . . ., Madrid 20
Even the reports on the condition of paintings at El Pardo made by Antonio
1600, p.226; modern edition: J.M. Cervell, ed.: Gaspar Gutirrez de los Ros y su Palomino in 1711 are remarkable because they represent only a tiny fraction of his

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first protector at court, that artists role as restorer of the damaged held Velzquez in high esteem, decreed that the new post should
canvases probably owed as much to his friendship with Diego be established, and Carlos Salazar was sworn in as an official
Velzquez who, since 1626, had been pintor de Cmara. Cano and servant of the Furriera in March 1655, just a month after Velzquez
Velzquez had been fellow apprentices in Seville, and, after the lodged his petition. From that date Salazar worked directly with
fire, travelled together throughout Castile to acquire paintings for Velzquez or under his orders. The close relationship between
the king, which they subsequently restored as required.21 the two artists is reflected in the fact that Velzquez and his wife,
By the mid-seventeenth century the responsibilities of the pintor Juana Pacheco, stood as godparents to two of Salazars children
de Cmara for the restoration of paintings was formalised. In 1652 named, appropriately, Diego and Juana Marcelina.24
Velzquez, who, as pintor de Cmara had long fulfilled a role in Velzquezs successful bid to appoint a specialist assistant to
the Furriera (Fig.01), was promoted to Aposentador Mayor (Master the Furriera meant that from 1655 onwards the post was occupied
of the Household), the top post in the Furriera. This was the first by painters who were, for the most part, and at least until the
(and only) occasion when one courtier occupied both offices. mid-eighteenth century, direct descendants of Velzquez or his
Traditionally the pintor de Cmara was aided in his artistic court assistants. For example, Diego Salazar, Velzquezs godson, worked
duties by the assistants working in his studio which, although in the Furriera until 1715.25 The size of the kings collection,
located within the palace, functioned under the pintor de Cmaras Velzquezs standing in the palace and Philip IVs respect for his
direction and therefore independent of palace administration. In painter, resulted in the establishment of a permanent provision for
1655, however, Velzquez petitioned for a permanent post of an the restoration of works of art in the Spanish Royal Collection.
assistant to the pintor de Cmara in the Furriera to be established, Starting with Velzquezs son-in-law, Juan Bautista del Mazo, who
specifically to care for the kings pictures. This was necessary succeeded him as pintor de Cmara, this office was automatically
since the Royal Collection had continued to grow significantly tied to a post as ayudante de la Furriera (assistant to the Royal
during the reigns of Philip III and Philip IV: their agents bought Steward). This insured that the pintor de Cmaras responsibilities
pictures at the greatest sales of the century, including Rubenss for the collections care were tied to the Furriera.
collection in 1640, and the paintings of Charles I of England, sold Juan Carreo de Miranda (161485) served as pintor de Cmara
at the Commonwealth Sale in 164954. During this time, more from 1669 to 1685, with five assistants documented in his studio
paintings were entering the Royal Collection from abroad than in 1682,26 among them Juan Serrano who, in 1686, applied for a
were being commissioned from Spanish artists. post in the Furriera. In describing his qualifications for the post, he
Velzquezs request was recorded in a memorandum to the king, mentioned that he had worked as an assistant to Carreo, repaired
recommending a certain Carlos de Salazar for the post of official a fresco in the Saln de los Espejos in the Real Alczar, repaired
assistant (mozo de la furriera similar to Page of the Chambers). paintings throughout the Palace and at San Lorenzo el Real at
Velzquez argued, prior to the palace collection having been the Escorial, and hung paintings in the Escorial and in the San
augmented with artworks to ornament the palace there were three Pablo hermitage in the park of the Buen Retiro; furthermore,
assistants [to the pintor de Cmara: ok?] in the furriera for the care he had repaired all the paintings in that palace there were over
of these things, and now there is only one and these necessities five hundred and added that he had not been paid for five
have been in part met until now by a servant who helped him to months. The record of his appointment states he was named for
restore, hang and clean the paintings and other things that are in the reason that he has appropriate ability to help in the treatment
his care, and since [the servant] is no longer there, it has become of paintings.27 Echoing the apparent close personal relationship
necessary to address [ok?] this situation and my request that such between Velzquez and Salazar, Juan Serrano was to become the
an assistant to help with these tasks be formally appointed to the de facto heir of Carreo and his wife.28
office of mozo de la furriera.22 A close contemporary and collaborator of Carreo was
Initially the palace bureaucrats resisted, proposing that two Francisco Rizi (161485) who was never pintor de Cmara to the
existing functionaries of the Furriera should take on this job in sovereign, although he held the equivalent office in the household
addition [author: rather than?] to Velzquezs candidate (for of Don Juan Jos of Austria (162979), Philip IVs natural son.
whom a new salary would be necessary).23 But Philip IV, who Rizi undertook the restoration of paintings belonging to Don

artistic activity; see F.J. Len Tello and M.M.V. Sanz Sanz: La esttica acadmica de Velzquez remitido por Felipe IV al Bureo, 17th February 1655: que aviendo antes
espanola en el siglo XVIII: Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Carlos de Valencia, que la casa estuviesse aumentada de piezas y adornos tres mozos de la furriera para su servizio,
Valencia 1979, pp.34952, for transcriptions of the relevant documents (AGP, Sec. oy se halla con uno solo y estando suplida en parte esta falta hasta aora con un criado que el
Personal, Legajo 784/1). tena que le aiudaba a aderezar, colgar y limpiar las pinturas y a lo demas q. es de su cargo, por
21
Demas de esto hizo el reparo de ciento y sesenta lienzos que se rompieron y maltrataron en averle faltado se halla en necesidad de representar lo que ai de persona con titulo de mozo de la
la primera quema del Rl Retiro. Y acompao a Diego Velazquez en el viaxe qe hio a Castilla furriera le aiude en este ministerio y sea de servizio para el.
la Viexa qdo VM se lo mando para efecto de buscar pinturas, y las qe se truxeron las reparo 23
Aterido, op. cit. (note 2), p.325; AGP, Expedientes personales, 947/25, Informe del
(In addition to this he restored one hundred and sixty canvases that were torn and Bureo al Rey, 12th March 1655.
damaged in the first fire at the Royal Retiro, and he accompanied Diego Velzquez 24
Aterido, op. cit. (note 2), p.325, note 196.
on the trip he made through Old Castile commanded by Your Majesty for the 25
Ibid., pp.32528.
purpose of finding painting; he repaired those that were brought); AGS, Cmara, 26
Ibid., p.326.
Memoriales, Legajo 1367, Memorial de Alonso Cano solicitando una canonga 27
Ibid., pp.32627; AGP, Expedientes personales, 993/31, 28th November 1686.
en la Catedral de Granada, 24th and 30th October 1658; published in J. Mart y Juan Serrano gained the place, but with an honorary title and without a salary.
Mons: Estudios histricos-artsticos relativos principalmente a Valladolid basados 28
M. Lasso de la Vega y Lpez de Tejada: Efemridades artsticas madrileas (1603
en la investigacin de diversos archivos, Valladolid 1898. See also A. Aterido: Corpus 1911), Boletn de la sociedad Espaola de Excursiones 12 (1948), pp.2834.
Alonso Cano, Madrid 2001, doc.337.
22
Aterido, op. cit. (note 2), p.325; AGP, Expedientes personales, 947/25, Memorial

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Juan in 167879. Treatment was necessary to repair damages the were those whose paintings were rescued: Drer, Reni, Raphael,
paintings had suffered travelling from Zaragoza, where Juan Jos Antonis Mor, Van Dyck, Tintoretto, Veronese, Velzquez,
had served as viceroy, to Madrid. Besides relining, mounting Rubens, Bosch, Ribera, Cano, El Greco and Titian. A campaign
onto new stretchers and restoring some thirty-one unidentified to restore the salvaged works was promptly organised; among the
canvases, Rizi also restored the extensive losses to a Feast of the paintings lined and restored were Velzquezs Las Meninas (Prado,
gods on copper by Hendrick de Clerck (whereabouts unknown). Madrid), Rubenss Adoration of the Magi, Titians Tarquin and
Rizis work was praised because it could not be perceived, even Lucretia (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge) and his Adam and Eve
by His Highness [don Juan] who, despite being so fine a painter and Charles V at Mhlberg (both Museo del Prado, Madrid).34 Over
himself, could not detect it.29 Despite this praise, Rizi was not a century of experience of caring for the collection underpinned
paid for his work until after the Dons estate was settled 1683. this, one of the best-documented episodes of restoration practice.
The last pintor de Cmara in the seventeenth century was Lessons had been learned from earlier palace fires, such as the
Claudio Coello (164293), who held the office from 1686 to destruction of El Pardo in 1604 and the fire at the Buen Retiro
1693 and continued the campaign begun under Carreo to treat in 1640. However, the urgent demands of the aftermath of the
all the paintings in the Alczar and the Buen Retiro Palace, which 1734 Alczar fire meant that the post of restorer was more clearly
amounted to over nine hundred works by 1686.30 defined, although he was still supervised by the primer pintor de
Philip V (reg.170024), the first of the Bourbon kings of Spain, Cmara. Documents reveal that a carefully monitored campaign to
wished for a complete redecoration of the royal palaces to reflect restore the works was undertaken by painters of proven knowledge
the style and dynastic character of the new royal house. Because and skill in the composicin de pinturas.35
the king named several painters as pintor de Cmara simultaneously, One of the most intriguing documents is a letter dated 18th
the honour attached to the appointment was diminished,31 January 1735, less than a month after the conflagration, written
although this was restored by the new designation of a primer by Jean Ranc (16741735), an artist who had arrived in Spain in
pintor de Cmara in 1737. Meanwhile, the restoration and care 1722 as pintor de Cmara to Philip V. Rancs letter is addressed to
of the collection continued, as evidenced by documents relating the minister Joseph Patio, a trusted adviser to the king:
to the decoration of Queen Maria Luisas apartments in 1703.
Despite considerable care being taken in transporting paintings The beauty and quality of the royal collection is so great that,
from outlying palaces to the Alczar, some as large as Rubenss after their repair, the works damaged in the fire must not be
Adoration of the Magi (Fig.03), moving the paintings around until allowed to return to the confusion in which they previously
the queen was content with the arrangement damaged the works, existed. I most humbly beseech your Excellency, if His Majesty
which then required relining and restoration under the direction should honour me by putting me in charge of returning these
of Teodoro Ardemans (16611726), Maestro mayor de Obras Reales works to a good state, to attach to me the title of superintendent
[translate], and from 1704 pintor de Cmara and ayuda de la Furriera, of paintings under the orders of the Mayordomo Mayor de Palacio.
who had been trained by Claudio Coello.32 Ardemans, with his I ask this as a particular favour which would offer relief and
collaborator Francisco Ortega, restored and adapted the size of protection from the misery I have been caused by the malicious
the paintings by cutting or adding sections of canvas to most of rumours which my jealous enemies continue to spread regarding
the pictures that were set into the walls in the redecoration of the the fire in the palace, about which they now see, to their great
Saln Nuevo del Alczar.33 regret, that neither in my apartment nor in my chimney was
The effectiveness of the kings household servants and courtiers there a single spark of fire.36
literally underwent a trial by fire on Christmas Eve 1734, when
the Alczar Palace was engulfed in flames. During that night more Rancs request to take responsibility for the care of the damaged
than five hundred paintings were destroyed, including works works reflects alterations in the administrative structure of the
by Titian, Rubens, Veronese and Velzquez. Nevertheless, the court effected after the dynastic change in 1700. Supervision of the
courageous efforts of court officials and the friars of the Convent of care of the collection was no longer part of the pintor de Cmaras
St Giles at the palace gates saved some 1,200 works from outright mandate, and only with the designation of a primer pintor de Cmara
destruction: cut from their frames and flung from the windows of in the 1740s was a chain of command re-established.37 Rancs letter
the burning Alczar, the pictures were taken to safety in nearby contains his recommendations for the care and conservation of the
buildings including the convent, the houses [plural ok?] of the collection.38 First, he suggested that the paintings be taken to the
Duke of Bedmar and the church of San Justo (Fig.04). If the names house where they will be restored only after windows had been
of the artists whose paintings were lost were illustrious, so too installed in it. He continued:

29
E. Gonzlez Asenjo: Francisco Rizi restaurador de pintura, Archivo espaol de arte Restoration of Paintings in the Spanish Royal Collections, 17341820, in S.
73/292 (2000), pp.41519, esp. p.417, cites AGS, CSR [what is this?], Legajo 207: Staniforth and C. Sitwell: Studies in the History of Painting Restoration, London 1998,
la pinto y renob de genero que Su alteza con ser tan estremado pintor no lo conoia . . .. pp.5354: Les Beaux que appartienment a la Couronne meritent bien cette distinction;
Attempts to identify this work have been unsuccessful. dautant plus que se aprs avoir ete raccomods el retrent dans la Confusion ou ils etoient
30
Y. Bottineau: LAlczar de Madrid et linventaire de 1686. Aspects de la cour cy devant, ceseroit navoir rien fait. Je suplie tres humblement V.E. si leurs Majestez me
dEspagne au XVIIe sicle, Bulletin Hispanique 60/3 (1958) pp.289326. font lhonneur de me charger du soin de les faire metre en bon Etat dy attacher le titre de
31
Aterido, op. cit. (note 2), pp.35255. surintendant des tableaux, sous les orders du grand Maitre. Je le demande comme une grace
32
Ibid., p.333. que poura me metre a couvert de chagrin que me cause le mauvais bruit que mes jaloux enemies
33
Ibid., p.341; AHN, Consejos, Junta de obras y bosques, Legajo 49.534. contiument afaire courir sur lincendre de Palais ou lon voit cependent encore a leur grand regret,
34
AGP, Administrativos, Legajo 38, exp.36. quil nest entre ny dans mon appartement ny dans la cheminee aucune etincelle de feu [. . .]
35
An archaic term, composicin de pinturas may be understood as the process of making Honneur detre avec un profund respect [. . .] Ja. Ranc..
orderly and composed paintings that were in a broken or disorderly condition. 37
Aterido, op. cit. (note 2), p.358.
36
AGP, Felipe V, Administrativos, Bellas Artes, Legajo 38/25. Z. Vliz: The 38
AGP, Felipe V, Administrativos, Bellas Artes, Legajo 38/25; Vliz, op. cit. (note

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CARING FOR THE KINGS PICTURES

treatment should begin with the most beautiful works, including 914 metres of angulema linen for lining large pictures, and 450
measuring them for their stretchers and frames. One should metres of finer Corua linen for the more delicate ones; 23 kilos
always reckon the stretchers a little bigger so that when they of tacks or nails [for fixing canvases to stretchers]; two plates of
are lined onto the new canvas, one can have a little ease in iron, three hammers and two pairs of pliers [used in stretching
placing them to one side or the other, according to the taste canvases]; 90 kilos of flour, two combs of honey [added to the
and knowledge of the one in charge; and they must not be relining adhesive], 16 litres of spirit of wine [for removing varnish];
placed too near the edge, as they will be hidden by the frame.39 45 litres of walnut oil, and 45 kilos of sandarac gum [for varnish and
To avoid misunderstanding and bad restoration of the oiling out]; two loads of coal. A dozen sponges [used in cleaning
originals by those who have never studied [the conservation away smoke and discoloured varnish].43 He also requested funds
of paintings ok?], the restoration of the important passages to pay assistants for a period of six months to help with lining, and
should be carried out only by the most able restorers. ordered large wooden worktables used during lining, stretchers,
When restored, the pictures should be divided into good, a load of clean sand for weighing down relined canvases and a
mediocre and bad. The good ones will be placed in the salons labourer to carry it up to the workroom.44 On 30th October,
according to the schools of Rome, Venice, Lombardy, Flanders another 185 kilos of flour, eight litres more of spirit of wine, five
and others. The mediocre ones will be displayed separately and and a half kilos of soap, and another 130 kilos of coal.45 Using
the bad ones put aside and not shown. sand for weighing down relined canvases is no longer employed,
The stretchers for the very large paintings must be hinged in but in the hands of skilled practitioners, it could have helped to
two parts, so that it will be possible to fold them and to transport avoid potential collateral damage from lining such as increasing
them without having to roll them.40 the canvas weave texture or flattening the impasto of the original
paint surface. One of the dangers of using heated irons to secure
Ranc attached a room-by-room summary of the pictures saved the adhesive and relax distortions in the original paint (a procedure
from the fire, including Veroneses The finding of Moses and Alonso used extensively in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries) is that
Canos Castilian King (Figs.05 and 06). From the great Hall of it flattens the impasto of the original paint surface or, if excessive,
Mirrors, he notes, all the pictures were saved except the portrait can even melt the paint. The two iron plates that Miranda ordered
of Philip IV on Horseback by Rubens and the Expulsion of the may have been heated and placed on the painting to speed the
Moriscos by Velzquez.41 Although some of Rancs suggestions evaporation of the water in the pasteglue adhesive (la gacha), but
were adopted, his death only six months later may have been it is probable that the join between the original canvas and lining
hurried by the profound distress caused by the episode. attached behind it was in fact secured by weighing it down with
By mid-1735, Juan Garca de Miranda (16771749), a minor sand. Working from the dates and quantity of materials ordered
artist trained in the circle of Antonio Palomino, who formerly by Miranda, we can deduce the sequence of treatments carried
served as painter to Queen Isabel Farnese, wife of Philip V, was out in the first year after the fire. The first six months must have
effectively in charge of the restoration work and was named pintor been occupied with imposing order on the chaos resulting from
de Cmara in recognition of his skill as a restorer.42 Ranc was the Christmas Eve rescue operations by cataloguing paintings
not replaced until 1737, when Louis van Loo came to Madrid and prioritising them for treatment. By focusing his workforce
and was eventually named primer pintor de Cmara in 1744. on relining the structurally damaged canvases Miranda stabilised
Practices established by Garca de Miranda continued well into the the extremely vulnerable paintings, many of which had been cut
nineteenth century and informed restoration practice in the Museo from their stretchers and may well have suffered creases, tears and
del Prado, established in 1819 with the rescued Royal Collection at punctures from urgent handling during the crisis. An inventory of
its heart. From the time of Garca de Miranda and throughout the the paintings, dated 1747, notes that the dimensions of numerous
eighteenth century, the physical care of the collection became the paintings differed from those recorded in pre-fire inventories
responsibility of specified pintores de Cmara rather than the Furriera. because severely damaged parts of the canvases were cut away
A building known as the Casa Arzobispal was designated for the before lining.46 The quantities of walnut oil and spirit of wine
repair of works damaged in the fire. It was not far from the palace, (ethyl alcohol) ordered in August suggest that cleaning and varnish
next to the church of San Justo and only a short distance from the removal occurred in tandem with the structural interventions.
main store for the damaged works, the Casa de Bedmar. From Soap was purchased for cleaning utensils, brushes, palettes and
1765 restoration was carried out at the Casa de Rebeque (Fig.04). grinding slabs.
Garca de Miranda began preparing for the conservation of By December Miranda was ready to begin restoring, and
damaged paintings in the early summer of 1735, and his request for ordered pigments in quantity: fine carmine, ultramarine of the
materials on 14th August gives an idea of the scale of the enterprise: best quality, fine madder, ten kilos of walnut oil; 15 litres of glue

36), pp.5455. et autres; le Mediocres de meme separem.t. et les mauvais seront mis aussi a part [. . .] il faout
39
Ibid. [correct?], page reference?: . . . lorsque lon prendra la mesure des dits tableaux observer que tous les chasis des grand tableaux soient fait en deux, pour pouvoir les plier et les
pour faire les Chassis, on commencera par les plus beaux; il faut toujours les faire un plus grand transporter dans tous les Endroits ou on poroit en avoir besoin sans etre oblig de les rouler . . ..
afin quen les collant sur la toile on soit matre de leur donner un peu plus de jeu dun cote ou 41
AGP, Felipe V, Administrativos, Bellas Artes, Legajo 38/25, transcribed in Vliz,
de lautre, selon le gout et la connoissance de celuy que en sera charg, et cela afin de ne point op. cit. (note 36), pp.5658.
etre oblige de placer quelques fois des parties Essencielles trop pres du pord, lesquelles se cachent 42
Aterido, op. cit. (note 2), p.360.
dans la bordure. 43
AGP, Felipe V, Seccin Bellas Artes, Legajo 38/25, partially transcribed in M.L.
40
Ibid. [correct?], page reference?: . . . Ces tableaux maltraits etant mis sur toile seront Barreno Sevillano: La restauracin de pinturas de las colecciones reales durante el
raccomods sous les yeux de plus habile Peintre pour Empecher que le dessein ny soit pas siglo XVIII, Archivo espaol de arte 53/212 (1980), pp.46790. Original units of varas,
corrompu par des gens que dordinaire nenfont aucune Etude, et lorsquil sy trouve des parties libras, cuartillos, fanegas etc. have been converted to their metric equivalents.
principals de gates, il faut que le plus habile les raccomode luy meme [. . .]. Tous les tableaux, 44
Ibid.
mis en bon Etat seront separez en trois classes, les bons, les mediocre, et les mauvais. Les Bons 45
Ibid.
seront placez dans les salles, selon les Ecoles de Rome, de Venise, de Lombardie, de Flandres, 46
AGP, Administrativos, Legajo 38, exp.36.

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CARING FOR THE KINGS PICTURES

from Valladolid, eleven kilos of yeso mate (a fine grade of calcium woman with a dog in her hand by Antonis Mor was also treated
carbonate); 14 kilos of linseed oil to make the siccative [for use (Fig.08) [author: please check where in the above quotation
in retouching];47 brushes in all sizes; and more pigments: yellow marks should be inserted]. At the start of 1752 he began work on
lake, ochres from Valencia or Calamocha, umber, Prussian blue, a very damaged picture of Hippomenes and Atlanta [. . .] chosen
natural and artificial greens, and lead white (described at various from the Torre de la Parada; this is Guido Renis painting now
times as fine, from Venice, Holland, etc.). Red lakes were specified in the Prado.
as ordinary, fine, from Florence, from Venice, from Honduras or In 1783, Andrs de la Calleja was occupied with paintings from
the Indies.48 Walnut oil seems to have been used as the medium, the Hall of Realms in the Buen Retiro Palace, including ten
while glue and gesso were used as putty to fill losses in the paint paintings of the Labours of Hercules (these are by Francisco Zurbarn
layers before applying pigments in oil to imitate the original and and now in the Museo del Prado) and six large battle scenes, all
dissimulate losses and damages. The specialised merchants who of which were nearly lost, for which reason it has been necessary
supplied these materials traded in the Calle de Postas, between to line them and provide new stretchers.53 The inventory of
the Puerta del Sol and the Plaza Mayor (Fig.04). pictures awaiting treatment in 1785, the year of Callejas death,
Garca de Miranda was succeeded in 1749 by Andrs de la again gives an idea of the number and quality of works being
Calleja whose career in the royal service spanned fifty years; restored: Titians Sleeping Venus, Venus and Adonis, Dana and two
for the last thirty-five he was in charge of all restoration in the more of his Venuses; Rubenss The three Graces, Judgment of Paris
palaces in Madrid and its environs. In compliance with Bourbon and Persueus and Andromeda; eighteenth-century royal portraits
administrative reforms, from 1753 he produced regular and included Rancs Family of Philip V (Fig.09); portraits by Titian;
detailed budgetary reports on the cost of materials, assistants and copies after Correggio; Veroneses Venus and Adonis; Riberas
journeys. Every January he submitted accounts for the preceding St John the Evangelist; and Renis Hippomenes and Atalanta (in
year with a summary of the work carried out.49 Callejas accounts the studio since 1752?[why the question mark?]) and Annibale
included payment for such items as pumice stone, fine Venetian Carraccis Venus and Adonis. In 1796 most of these pictures were
alum and many dozens of eggs, which he used with rock sugar transferred from the Royal Collection to the Royal Academy of
for varnishing.50 The pumice stone would have been used for Fine Arts of San Fernando, where the nudes would have been
smoothing off uneven threads on the reverse of the original canvas of use to train aspiring artists.54 The inventory continues with
as well as on the relining canvas before gluing them together. Sebastiano del Piombos Descent from the Cross, Titians Charles V
Alum was probably added for stabilising glazes, or as an additive at Mhlberg, The fable of Arachne by Velzquez (all in the Prado)
to other pigment mixtures, or possibly for purifying water to be and works by Murillo, Rubens, Ranc, Corrado Giaquinto, Van
used in the preparation of lining adhesives. Callejas accounts also Dyck, Amigoni and Giordano, among others. In all, fifty-two
include such items as esparto, the tow-like fibres used to bridge paintings were committed to the care of Jacinto Gmez, who
joins on the reverse of wood panels, and paper for fans [can you had been Callejas assistant for nearly ten years.55
explain why it was called for fans?], a kind of vellum that could At the time of Callejas death, two senior royal painters shared
be applied in strips to the reverse of panels for the same purpose. the position of primer pintor de cmara, while the supervision
The same year he occasionally ordered cola de pescado (fish glue, of restorations was carried out by Callejas successor, Jacinto
a form of isinglass), which suggests that flaking paint on wooden Gmez, and other artistrestorers in the royal service. The political
panels, which could not be treated by relining, was glued in place.51 manoeuvring between Francisco Bayeu (173495) and Salvador
The volume of work completed is astounding. Between 1751 Maella (17391819), which resulted in a shared appointment,
and 1753 Andrs de la Calleja and a handful of assistants treated seems to have been motivated by rivalry to take possession of the
257 paintings, including Orazio Gentileschis Finding of Moses studio in the Casa de Rebeque (Fig.04). If it was large enough to
(Fig.07), of which he noted: from the Pardo Palace which was in contain all the pictures listed above, it must have been impressive.
bad condition, flaking and very dry, and with old varnishes which In any event, the lions share of conservation and restoration
took much time to clean, and this kind of composition, because continued to be carried out by Jacinto Gmez. The equipment
of its size, to clean it without damage consumes a deal of time.52 inventoried in the Casa de Rebeque in 1785 includes the usual
In the same period he cleaned Rubenss St George and the dragon, easels and porphyry slabs for grinding pigments and mixing them
also from the Pardo, now in the Museo del Prado, in a similarly with the medium. It also contained substantial pieces of canvas,
bad state. As the treatments were finished one assistant fitted some three and four metres square, which were used for moving
and gilded new frames to the paintings. The list also included 4 large paintings when they were unstretched; canvas impregnated
hunting or game scenes by Snyders; A gentleman wearing the Cross with wax and resin used for the same purpose; a very large canvas
of Malta [in a very bad condition from having been stuck onto a four and a half metres square on a stretcher, to place over the
panel; this is Titians painting in the Prado]; St Peter the apostle paintings when the relinings were weighed down with sand; large
and St Jerome by Ribera were relined; a portrait of a seated tables, small stoves for heating the lining adhesives, and much

47
Ibid. PO1243, PO1244, PO1245, PO1246, PO1247, PO1248, PO1249 and PO1250,
48
Ibid. Museo del Prado, Madrid.
49
Most of the copious documentation of materials and costs relating to work directed 54
AGP, Seccin Carlos III, Legajo 202/45.
by Andrs de la Calleja is published in J.L. Morales y Marn: Coleccin de documentos 55
AGP, Seccin Carlos III, Pintores de Cmara, Legajo 202/9.
para la historia del arte en Espaa, VII: Pintores cortesanos de la segunda mitad del siglo 56
AGP, Seccin Carlos III, Legajo 202/45; transcribed in Vliz, op. cit. (note 36),
XVIII, Madrid 1991, pp.81143, passim. Appendix, doc.5.
50
Ibid., p.125, doc.159. 57
Morales y Marn, op. cit. (note 49), pp.13435, doc.168; AGP, Seccin Carlos III,
51
Ibid., p.122, doc.156; p.125, doc.159; p.137, doc.171. Legajo 55.
52
AGP, Fernando VI, Bellas Artes, Caja 354/1. 58
Morales y Marn, op. cit. (note 49), pp.105108, doc.138; AGP, Seccin Carlos
53
Morales y Marn, op. cit. (note 49), pp.14445, document 177. AGP, Seccin III, Legajo 41.
Carlos III, Legajo 65. The paintings are by Francisco de Zurbarn, PO1241, PO1242, 59
Morales y Marn, op. cit. (note 49), pp.199200, doc.132; AGP, Seccin Carlos

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CARING FOR THE KINGS PICTURES

else besides.56 exclusively to this end achieve it.63


As well as the continuing restoration of works damaged in In 1800 Goya was asked to review the disappointing and inferior
the fire and routine treatment of paintings in Madrid, the royal work of a restorer named ngel Gmez Maran. He commented:
restorer and his assistants regularly journeyed to outlying palaces
to inventory and review the condition of paintings and make Even the artists themselves, if they came back to life now, could
recommendations to the primer pintor de cmara or the Mayordomo not retouch [their paintings] perfectly because of the darkened
mayor whose authorisation was necessary for treatment. Some tone of colours which is produced by Time, who is also a painter,
work was done on site, but extensive interventions were usually according both to the maxim and observation of the wise. It is
undertaken in the Casa Arzobispal or the Casa de Rebeque. On not easy [even for the artist himself] to preserve the rapid and
one occasion, an Annunciation by Titian (untraced) could not transitory intent of the fancy and the harmony and order planned
be rolled; perhaps it was painted on panel and transported from at the first execution in such a way that they are not weakened
Aranjuez to Madrid with the help of eight labourers who steadied by change and retouching. And if this is thought to be inevitable
the picture on the rough road.57 When pictures were rolled, they for a consummate artist, what is to happen when retouching is
were protected with thin paper, rolled around a wooden tube and undertaken by one who lacks the solid principles [of his art]?
placed inside a tin canister for the journey.58 There were trips to [. . .] With regard to the nature of the ingredients employed for
Aranjuez, El Escorial or El Pardo two or three times a year, and the glazing [varnishing] of the paintings, although I asked what
the accounts note extra costs for transportation, lodging, meals and he used, he spoke only of white of egg, without any further
even replacement of personnel in the case of illness.59 Memoranda explanation; so that I knew for certain that he was making a
with observations on the state of paintings frequently conveyed mystery of it and was anxious to hide the truth.64
an alarming image. Paintings seen in the Pardo in 1751 were in
bad condition since they have been in that place for so long, they Another contemporary, the painter Luis de Paret (174699)
suffered when they were moved [. . .] those in the Zarzuela palace explained in detail this method for preparing egg-white varnish:
were in a bad state, fragile, and perished since they were there
such a long time in that place with no windows, and the worst take two egg whites and put them in a bowl and beat them
was that they were also soiled by birds and by the urine of bats, and when they have made much foam the plate is tipped and a
which causes very pernicious damage and is difficult to repair.60 clear varnish is poured off and the foam is thrown off because
In 1777 Anton Rafael Mengs, primer pintor de cmara, reported this [. . .] would ruin the pictures; then add 1/4 part of lemon
on paintings at the Escorial, noting that the humidity in the old juice and with a very clean little sponge a very little bit of the
church and cloisters was detrimental to paintings placed against varnish is taken up and passed over the entire picture lightly.65
the stone walls, which led to a sunken and damaged appearance.61
He urged that the monks pay the cost of restoration, but the work Beyond providing valuable evidence about the materials and
should not be done by an indifferent restorer, who might destroy processes employed by Spanish restorers in past centuries, what
them forever; rather, they should be placed in the hands of a more do the documents uncover? They make evident that, from
restorer of recognised ability, such as one of those who worked the time of Philip II, there was a relationship of trust between
for the king. the sovereign and the artists who restored the paintings in his
On the one hand, Mengss high opinion of the royal restorers collection. The restoration was administered by the Furriera office,
was shared in the nineteenth century by Jos de Madrazo, Director and the mozos de la furriera who cared for the kings paintings
of the Prado from 1838 to 1857, who claimed that even the belonged to the kings household. In a court culture where
most knowledgeable connoisseurs could not distinguish these proximity to the person of the king was a sign of high status,
eighteenth-century restorations.62 On the other hand, in 1785 a courtiers with access to the rooms inhabited by the king were
successful private restorer, Nicolas de Lameira, declined to accept worthy of respect. Sometimes the sovereign even entrusted key
the honour of treating paintings in the Royal Collection under the political missions to his painters, as when in 1706 Jos Garca
direction of Mariano Salvador Maella, pintor de Cmara, claiming Hidalgo carried secret correspondence for Philip V during the
that he refused to be directed by Maella or any other artist, since, Wars of the Spanish Succession,66 enduring rough treatment and
recognising his ability, both Maella and Bayeu gave him their only being spared execution because the rebel leader was his
pictures to restore. It was therefore evident that neither could former pupil. In 1814 Mariano Salvador Maella, a venerable elder
teach him anything about the art of restoring paintings, nor was statesman of the art establishment, who as primer pintor de Cmara
he in need of any direction; [. . .] economically, too, he could had been in charge of restoration with Bayeu from 1785, was
not afford to work for the king since he would have to give up subjected to a test of political purity (pureza) at the time of the
working for any private collectors as there were so many paintings restoration of the monarchy after Napoleons defeat.67
in the Palace that are damaged by terrible treatments, that not even We also learn from the documents of the vicissitudes suffered
in twenty years could the work of many skilled hands devoted by great artworks even early in their lives: the impact of transport

III, Legajo 38. 4 (178992) of the Diario de Pedro de Seplveda; Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional,
60
AGP, Felipe VI, Bellas Artes, Caja 354/1. MS 12628.
61
Barreno Sevillano, op. cit. (note 43), p.469; AGP, Legajo 3879. 66
This episode was recounted by Garca Hidalgo in a tract running to eight pages
62
J. de Madrazo: Viaje artstico de tres siglos por las colecciones de cuadros de los reyes de published in 1706; see Seor Don Joseph Garcia Hidalgo, pintor de camara de V.Magestad,
Espaa, Barcelona 1884, p.216. dize: que aviendo partido desta Corte en primero de diziembre del ao de 1706, proximo
63
Morales y Marn, op. cit. (note 49), p.285, doc.95; AGP, Seccin Administrativa, passado [. . .] llevando indulto para Juan Basset, rebelled en el Reyno de Valencia . . .;
Caja 606/12. Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional de Espaa, VE/1224/46.
64
E. Harris: Goya, London and New York 1969, pp.2930. 67
Morales y Marn, op. cit. (note 49), pp.31819, doc.255; AGP, Seccin
65
Personal communication from Nigel Glendinning in 1995. Extract from volume Administrativa, Caja 606/12.

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CARING FOR THE KINGS PICTURES

then, as now, was a factor, as were damaging environmental THUMBNAILS


conditions. The material life of a painting can be perceived as
layered and cumulative, its history embedded in the artwork
we view today. The simplicity of materials employed in these
early documented treatments indicates the consummate practical
skill and considered judgment with which they were used by
practitioners like Garca de Miranda and Andrs de la Calleja.
The archival records reveal a slow but steady growth of
professionalism in the practice of restoration in the Royal
Collection. The early Habsburgs, in particular Philip II and Philip
IV, had a real knowledge of painting, and their sophisticated
appreciation of art created a culture that was propitious for the
care of artworks. With the support of the monarch, the pintor
de Cmara supervised treatments, in many cases doing the work
himself. Treatments seem to have been focused above all on
stabilising the fragile structures and repairing damage resulting 01. Diagram showing the relative positions at court of pintores de Cmara and
from transportation and environmental conditions. Nevertheless, pintores del rey, and the three administrative authorities for which the artists
a quiet but constant undercurrent of aesthetic concerns suggests worked. BEING REDRAWN IN-HOUSE, PLACEHOLDER VISUAL
ABOVE
that criteria about cleaning and retouching were also concerns.
The traditions of care established in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries ensured that in response to the disastrous fire at the Royal
Alcazar in 1734, a well-organised and documented restoration
programme was promptly initiated, on which a succession of
pintores de Cmara and restorers were employed for over fifty
years.
Another observation touches on the possible influence of
restoration practice on the artistic development of the Madrid
school in the seventeenth century. The artists who worked as
picture restorers include some of Spains greatest painters: Alonso
Cano, Diego Velzquez, Juan Carreo de Miranda, Francisco Rizi
and Claudio Coello. Although impossible to prove, it is probable
that the close study of the techniques of the old masters and the
assessment of condition that go hand-in-hand with restoration
would have heightened these artistrestorers perceptions of
canvases by artists such as Titian and Rubens and would have led
to stylistic shifts in their own work.
The twin factors of an extremely large and centralised collection
of paintings and the inevitable physical deteriorations of even the
most beautifully crafted works of art determined that restoration
practice and conservation of the collection evolved naturally in the 02. Descent from the Cross, by Rogier van der Weyden. c.1435. Panel, 220 by 262
cm. (Museo del Prado, Madrid).
Spanish Royal Collection. The crisis of the fire in 1734 ultimately
strengthened the spirit of commitment and tradition in the care
of this great historical collection.

03. Adoration of the Magi, by Peter Paul Rubens. 1610. Canvas, 346 by 438 cm.
(Museo del Prado, Madrid).

10 june 2016 clviii the burlington magazine


CARING FOR THE KINGS PICTURES

04. Map of Madrid by Pedro Teixeira, 1656. (Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid).


Detail with locations for A) Real Alczar Palace; B) Convent of Saint Giles; C)
Palacio de Bedmar; D) Parish of San Justo; E) Archbishops Palace; F) Casa de
Rebeque; G) Calle de Postas.

05. The finding of Moses, by Paolo Veronese. c.1580. Canvas, 57 by 43 cm. (Museo
del Prado, Madrid).

08. Portrait of a seated woman, by


Antonis Mor. c.156065. Panel,
100 by 80 cm. (Museo del Prado,
Madrid).

06. A Castilian king, by Alonso Cano. Date? Canvas, 165 by


125 cm. (Museo del Prado, Madrid).

09. Family of Philip V, by Jean Ranc. c.1722. Canvas, 44 by 65 cm.


07. Finding of Moses, by Orazio Gentileschi. 1633. Canvas, 242 by (Museo del Prado, Madrid).
281 cm. (Museo del Prado, Madrid).