Our paintings conservator is examining this very large still-life in preparation for cleaning it. Because it’s so large, it needs a lot of cleaning tests, trying different solvensts, to see where overpaint and discolored varnish are present.
But there’s another reason as well. An old photo in the conservation file shows that there is another painting beneath the one we see here. In a restoration more than 60 years ago, a whole male head was once uncovered.
We recently took an X-ray of the same area.
One of the first cleaning tests uncovered our mystery man’s eye. And so he has been watching our conservator at work.
While we will not remove any original paint comprising the still-life, we will be doing all we can to investigate the underlying portrait. Perhaps we’ll even be able to determine the artist of the still-life and the portrait.
This is a large undertaking, so watch for future posts about the conservation of this mysterious painting.
Anonymous Neapolitan school (active 17th c.,) Still Life with Game, Bequest of Frieda Hauck by exchange, 1956.10