Iveron Icon of the Mother of God: reconstruction based on physical–chemical tests as an element of conservation
Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw, Poland
Accepted: 21 December 2022
Published online: 8 March 2023
Recently art conservators tend to wonder which of the possible intervention paths to undertake while planning a conservation project and how deep their interference with the original substance should be. Limiting intervention to ceasing the ongoing degradation process and securing the object for the future without restoring any missing parts of the composition is just one of the many available approaches. Making a brand new copy of the painting where all the missing parts could be fully reconstructed and exposing it along with the original is a good alternative to traditional restoration practice. This method has been used by Danuta Stępień during conservation of a Russian icon entitled “Our Lady of Iver” (Moscow, 1908–1917, egg tempera on a wooden panel partially covered by a silver oklad, 10.8 × 13.2 × 0.8 cm). The silver oklad was executed by the workshop of Smirnow. Technology and materials have been identified via different analytical techniques: VIS, UV, IR and X-ray photography, microscopic photography, SEM–EDS analysis and FTIR. Specific medical radiological instruments have also been used as non-invasive analytical tools. The following materials have been identified: yellow ochre, cinnabar, cadmium red, red iron oxides, silver, gold and copper. The oklad is made of an Ag-rich silver–copper alloy. Its whole surfaces are richly engraved with traces of gold detected inside the engravings. Based on this fact, an assumption has been made that originally the upper part of the oklad might have been entirely covered with a layer of gold. The information gathered during research allowed to execute a fine copy of the icon using similar materials and techniques. An alternative to classic restoration approach is to create a faithful but fully reconstructed copy that could be exposed along with the original painting. This solution not only assures maximum respect for the original substance but also allows the recipients to better understand its history and technique.
© The Author(s) 2023
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