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musée des Augustins
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Restoration today


The Virgin's face during restoration.

Photo : Daniel Martin
The code of ethics of contemporary restoration is inspired by Cesare Brandi’s Theoria del Restauro, which appeared in 1963. In recognizing that a work of art has a singular nature in relation to an ordinary object, he distinguishes the notion of restoration from that of simple repair.

A work of art is defined as an object having both a historical and an aesthetic value. Its restoration must therefore take account of these two values and attempt to reconcile them as best as possible.

Three essential principles derive from this reflection:

> any new intervention must be discernible; the principle of visibility of an intervention;

> the materials used must be compatible with the original material and must not change with age;

> they must however be soluble so that any intervention is always reversible (not permanent).

To the questions raised by the restoration of works is added that of their possible de-restoration: should the contributions of previous interventions be retained and to what extent is this restoration part of a work’s history?


Photographic detail of the head of
Saint John after restoration.

(C2RMF - G. de Puniet)
 
Lastly, today’s necessity of limiting intervention to a minimum leads conservators and restorers to do as much preventive conservation beforehand as possible. This consists of anticipating the degradation of works and controlling the conditions under which they are kept (ambient temperature, degree of humidity etc), displayed and handled.