Restoration process

Despite the amazing resistance to degradation shown by these paintings, it is normal for various types of damages to occur during installation or exhibition phases; hence, we can imagine that maintenance interventions were performed immediately and often by totally inexperienced people.

We can say that they started talking about actual restoration only from the early 1950s when the artist and restorer Mario Gilardi was appointed by the Municipality to carry out an intervention of general conservation of the “doors” and paintings by Bagutti, considering a family tradition that had already witnessed his father Silvio, author of many transparents, occasionally acting also as restorer. Starting from those years and, particularly, after the storeroom was centralised during the next decade, conservation, restoration and ordinary maintenance become a regular commitment for both the Municipality and specialists.

As in the case of the pictorial technique, even restoration methods must adapt to the particular conditions of transparency, water-resistance, mechanical resistance, etc., that are certainly not the same ones used to restore “normal” paintings on canvas, which are exhibited in closed and controlled environments. Moreover, due to their explanatory nature, the “transparents” cannot be treated as museum items but must, instead, continue to perform their function by being readable. Hence, the interruptions of neutral integrations cannot be accepted, even despite considerable deficiencies. Fortunately today we have materials and methods that adapt better to the needs of these particular objects, compared to those traditionally used until 40-50 years ago, namely resistant synthetic canvases that were almost entirely transparent, transparent glues that can be either hot or cold activated, etc. Regarding the oldest paintings, particularly for the “doors” and for paintings in St. John's complex, it was decided to put them away definitely, and to replace them with photographic reproductions, copies or pictorial interpretations.