11. 400-year old crud

I was on a team that was working on restoring four badly damaged old paintings that were found in the basement of a villa. Job one was to thoroughly clean them, including what had been accumulating under the frames for 400 years. So we brushed away dead insects and worms, scrubbed away mold, ironed the edges flat, and carefully glued on wafer-thin Japanese paper, for reasons I don’t quite understand. It took us five hours, and this was just for starters, to get them READY to be restored.

When I signed up for this Messors program, I assumed we’d do a few simple tasks, almost make-work, to give us a taste of what art restoration is all about, and perhaps enlist us in the cause. But this is dead serious. They are racing against time, as so much is decaying and ultimately will be lost, around us.

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