|Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Adam and Eve (1507)|
Museo del Prado, Madrid
Video (in Spanish): Overview of the restoration project by Gabriele Finaldi, Deputy Director of Conservation, and Pilar Silva Maroto, Head of the Department of Flemish Painting (1400-1600) and of Spanish Painting (1100-1500)
In 1507, following his second trip to Venice, Dürer painted the life-size figures of Adam and Eve, defining the figures with a fluid and continuous line. He replaced the Vitruvian proportional canon of eight heads with a more elegant one of nine heads and barely suggested the anatomical details of the figures. Their unstable poses and rhythmical movements, as well as their artificial gestures and self-absorbed expressions all anticipate Mannerism, an approach that Dürer would, however, soon abandon.
Portrait of a Young Venetian Woman (1505)
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
When they arrived in Madrid the panels were considered to be 'nudes' and as such were hung in the 'vaults of Titian', the summer quarters in the Alcázar that housed nudes by Titian, Rubens, Tintoretto, Ribera and other leading artists. Fortunately, this part of the Alcázar was little affected by the fire of 1734 and Dürer’s panels were taken to the Buen Retiro palace along with others saved from the disaster. In 1762 moral qualms led Charles III to add the paintings to a list of others considered 'indecent' and which were to be destroyed. The intervention of the court painter Mengs saved Dürer’s panels as he was able to convince the monarch that both paintings “were very useful for his pupils to study.” With this didactic purpose in mind, ten years later the two panels were taken to the Academia de San Fernando where they were stored away. They could only be seen without restrictions during the reign of Joseph Bonaparte (1809-1813), when they were hung in the Sala de Juntas for the purposes of “study by the pupils of the Academy and delight for lovers of the fine arts.” The paintings entered the Prado in 1827 and were kept in the closed store where nudes were housed until 1838, at which date they were incorporated into the display of works on view to the public.
|Albrecht Dürer, Self-Portrait aged 26 (1498)|
Museo del Prado, Madrid
|Albrecht Dürer, Feast of the Rose Garlands (1506)|
(painted for the church of San Bartolomeo, Fondaco dei Tedeschi, Venice)
Národní Galerie, Prague
Restoration process of the panels of Adam and Eve by Dürer, with comments by José de la Fuente, restorer at the Museo Nacional del Prado and George Bisacca, restorer at the Metropolitan Museum of New York
Having stabilised the support and given the panels' smooth, continuous surfaces, work started on the delicate, complex task of restoring the paint surfaces, undertaken by Maite Dávila. Her work involved eliminating the incorrect contrasts and modifications visible in the paintings, as well as revealing the underdrawing, which the artist executed with a brush and a fluid medium. Of great complexity and refinement, this underdrawing was softened by Dürer through the application of fine glazes of flesh tones that served to emphasise the differences between the male and female nudes.
Restoration of the pictorial surface of Adam and Eve by Dürer, with comments by María Teresa Dávila, restorer at the Museo Nacional del Prado