Accueil Polychromies Secrètes
musée des Augustins
Mairie Toulouse

Polychromies secrètes (Secret Polychrome)

The restoration of two major 15th century Toulousain works

Two of the museum’s rare works which have undergone remarkable restoration are being brought into the daylight in the "Polychromies Secrètes" exhibition. Financed by the City of Toulouse, the restoration has also received assistance from the Midi-Pyrenees Regional Department of Cultural Affairs, part of the Ministry of Culture.
The work on Nostre Dame de Grasse also benefited from the generosity of the BNP Paribas Foundation.

Nostre Dame de Grasse and the Crucifixion du Parlement de Toulouse are two exceptional works of art. This sculpture and this painting are two of the very few examples of artistic expression in the second half of the 15th Century that originate definitely from Toulouse.

Nostre Dame de Grasse is recognized as having a unique aesthetic quality relating to both the sensitivity of its execution and the originality of its composition; the Crucifixion du Parlement de Toulouse, originally in a courtroom and depicting two royal donors, is of major historical interest.

Nothing is known about either artist, nor of the circumstances in which the works were commissioned, which makes the researchers’ work of comparison particularly difficult; hence the two works continue to remain largely enigmatic.

Notre Dame de Grasse is a polychrome sculpture (painted in several colours); the Crucifixion is a painted panel; the treatment of the painted layers gave rise similar types of questions during the recent restoration of these two remarkable works.

The restoration consisted of removing accumulations of colourwashes and repaints to get back to something approaching original condition: although certainly lost for ever, it has been possible to evoke it by returning to the artists’ conception. While the times, materials and colours are no more, the results obtained are nevertheless more faithful to the original works.
These two restorations are exceptional both in the length of time taken and the results achieved: preceded by a long phase of preliminary studies and analyses, they have resulted in the rediscovery of two masterpieces.