The restoration of the world-famous self-portrait of Peter Paul Rubens is complete and the painting can again be admired at the Rubenshuis museum, the painter’s former home and workplace, in Antwerp. The original layer of paint has been enhanced, but the panel revealed a number of secrets as it was being restored, it was stated on Monday during the presentation of the work.
The restoration was done at the Royal Institute of Artistic Patrimony, IRPA, in Brussels. When examined closely, using infrared photography, reflectography and other technical analyses, the painting shows a complex material journey linked to its many changes of owner.
“There was this layer of shiny varnish in particular that did not enhance the work; we also found four different layers,” restorer Marie-Annelle Mouffe said. “The analysis showed that 75% of the original work was painted over, adding new tones. We identified 10 layers in addition to the original one. The work also proved to have changed shape many times; in particular, it used to have an oval shape before.”
The City of Antwerp will organize a huge popular fiesta on Saturday in honour of the return of the painting. Entry to the Rubenshuis (Rubens House) will be free and for this occasion, it will remain open until 8.00 p.m.