Gozo Cathedral trompe l’oeil undergoing conservation and restoration
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In 1739 a trompe l’oeil was created by Antonio Pippi (mid-18th century, after Padre Andrea Pozzo). It was installed that year in to the Gozo Cathedral to create the image of a cupola without the need of building one.
This trompe l’oeil is now undergoing a process of conservation and restoration by PrevArti of Mosta. It is expected that the work will take around a year to compete and is being partly- funded by the EU. The painting was last restored prior to the current intervention – in 1823.The company said that to start the restoration it had the extremely challenging task of bringing it down from situ, this was due to the fact that the painting was close to the ceiling and there wasn’t a lot of space to work in.
PrevArti explained that scaffolding was then mounted in order to access the painting and to begin treatments of consolidation work using Japanese paper in areas that were fragile – this was carried out in preparation for handlingThe next step in the process was to remove the wooden strips so that the painting could start to be brought down. Half the painting was brought down on the first day, with the other half lowered on the next day, the company said.
“Great teamwork was needed in order to achieve this and a group of around 12 people in all – a lot of communication between all and immense attention for them to be brought down safely,” it said.
PrevArti went on to say that upon lowering the paintings, work had to commence immediately in the Cathedral itself.So on site, the PrevArti team of restorers removed the canvases from their strainer frames and also removed the old lining from the verso of the paintings, this was done in preparation for them to be transported.
The company explained that to bring them to the lab custom-made cylindrical structures were devised in order for the paintings to be rolled on to them and transported to the lab in a safe manner.
It added that Gozo Express were in charge of transporting the paintings from Gozo Cathedral to the PrevArti lab in Mosta.
Conservation and restoration work then continued in the PrevArti lab by starting with a series of cleaning tests prior to fully cleaning the whole paint layer.
The company said that at the moment it is still carrying out the cleaning and consolidation treatments of the paintings.
Photographs by PrevArti and JJP Zammit – second photo half the painting being lowered; removing the strainer frame in the Cathedral; and PrevArti restorers rolling the paintings onto the cylinders