” The conservation of the Epitaphios, an important work of the exhibition “Singular Romanian icons” from the collections of the Museum of Religious Art of Fourvière was essential.
Indeed, large strips of paper affixed to the surface of the work, probably as part of an old restoration, considerably hindered its legibility and appreciation. The work also presented important pathologies that excluded any displacement without risk of loss of pictorial material. It was therefore legitimate to allow it to benefit from the precautionary measures necessary for its sustainability. These interventions were provided by our association “Muses & A.R.T”, association of 9 restorers of works of art in the service of works «in peril».
The Epitaphios, work of the XIXth century, was painted on a cotton-type support probably for socio-economic reasons. This textile did not offer a great resistance to traction, and its quality being the least, the support of the work no longer guaranteed the cohesion and adhesion of the pictorial constituents. This resulted in widespread cleavage and loss of material.
After a condition report, a conservation protocol was put in place by the members of the association. It was to allow the work to regain its legibility and cohesion without affecting its state of conservation, that is to say, to bring only the vital care to the work without any addition (retouching of the gaps). We proceeded therefore and first of all to the delicate removal of the paper strips, then to the consolidation measures of the unstable parts such as the loose paint and the liftings. It was a question of restoring the adhesion between the different layers of the work.
Each of the conservators participated in these rescue operations. The precautionary measures have been minimalist in order to respond to the ethics in force and not to betray the pictorial message of a rare work. Today, the Epitaphios can once again bear witness to its role in the Orthodox and Catholic Churches of the Byzantine rite, to our delight and that of future generations. “
This article, written by a co-founder of our Association, was published in La Lettre N°39 des Amis du Musées de Fourvière.