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Title: Waarom oude restauraties dikwijls lelijk worden gevonden
Author(s): SCHUDEL, Walter
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Interieurgeschiedenis en Design
Volume: 38    Date: 2012-2013   
Pages: 1-13
DOI: 10.2143/GBI.38.0.3139352

Abstract :
For over a century it has been generally accepted – at least, in theory – that the conservation/restoration of artworks should reflect the actual condition of these artworks. Quite rightly, the ‘life’ that a work of art has ‘lived’ is regarded as an integral part, including any conservation or restoration treatments it has undergone. Few people would disagree. However, a large number of restorers and conservators take a less than sympathetic view of the evidence of an artwork’s past ‘life’. Especially interventions by earlier restorers and conservators are usually judged to be ‘not very successful’. This is regrettable, in particular if we wish to be in agreement with Cesare Brandi as is virtually compulsory among conservators and restorers. Indeed, Brandi stated that if a choice needs to be made, aesthetics must come first within the historical and aesthetical unity that an older work of art comprises. It is thus ironic that we often dislike those interventions in which the aesthetical aspect is meant to outweigh the rest. Why is this? I believe there to be two causes:
1 – the aesthetical discourse accompanying the intervention is inadequate;
2 – there is too much intervention, even if it is with the best intentions (less is more).
Regarding the first cause, we should bear in mind what the concept of ‘art’ means or can mean, and how taste and aesthetics (which are not to be confused) relate to this. Factors in the second possible cause are especially the market, the client (usually a layman), and the conscience of the restorer. Perception with any degree of profundity requires time. A conservation/restoration treatment should never be a short cut.

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