JAIC 1977, Volume 17, Number 1, Article 1 (pp. 01 to 08)
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Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 1977, Volume 17, Number 1, Article 1 (pp. 01 to 08)

HELMUT RUHEMANN'S INPAINTING TECHNIQUES

Bettina Jessell



2 CHOICE OF TECHNIQUE OF INPAINTING

On this question Helmut Ruhemann was not dogmatic, and I agree with him that the exact technique used should suit the individual painting and the school of painting from which it derives. In some cases his inpainting was limited to underpaint and monchrome undermodelling only; in other cases he added matched inpaintings in some passages of the painting, as in the Nativity by Piero della Francesca in the National Gallery in London. I have on occasion used undermodelling and no other inpainting on works where scholarship rather than artistic consideration was important, as shown in Plate 1. See Section 16.

This method of using undermodelling only is suitable for early and much damaged paintings, which are really drawings colored in. By contrast, the whole point of a Baroque painting is the way in which the eye of the beholder sweeps through the movement of the composition at the painter's bidding, and this is ruined if the eye meets the obstacles of unmatched inpainting.

In Helmut Ruhemann's opinion the ethical objections to completely matched inpainting lost much of their force with the introduction of the use of ultraviolet light to reveal new paint. So as not to deceive the public, I would like to see museums display next to every painting a small photograph of the painting after cleaning and before inpainting.

As a rule, Helmut Ruhemann used matched inpainting, which he carried to virtual perfection.


Copyright 1977 American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works