Accueil Polychromies Secrètes
musée des Augustins
Mairie Toulouse

Nostre Dame de Grasse

Nostre Dame de Grasse, detail, after

Photo : Daniel Martin
Nostre Dame de Grasse is a sculpture that is emblematic of the Musee des Augustins and the city of Toulouse, and one for which the public has always had a particular affection. The decision to restore it - thus changing its appearance - was one with far-reaching implications. The impetus was finally provided by the work itself, as its state of preservation was becoming alarming.

Signs of progressive deterioration called for rapid action, but first it would be necessary to make a precise analysis of the phenomena causing the deterioration. This called for an in-depth preliminary study. Many experts were involved: art historians, conservators and scientists from the Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musees de France (C2RMF) and restorers specializing in sculpture stone and polychrome. This study also provided an exceptional opportunity to supplement existing knowledge of the work and its history and led very naturally, in the end, to the question of restoration. A think tank of historians, academics, conservators and restorers was thus set up to help the museum in making what were often difficult choices.

The restoration has now been completed, showing this unique work in a new light and making it possible to update the public on the current state of knowledge on this masterpiece, although much still remains a mystery.

If, in a Doomsday scenario, I could take with me just one work of art, a painting or sculpture, I wouldn’t allow myself to be tempted by the more famous ones, which I have viewed and re-viewed a hundred times with the same enjoyment, a Sassetta predella, a Vermeer, a Manet - no, without hesitation I would choose: Notre-Dame de Grace. She is beautiful, and does not lack rivals in the charming Marian art of the 14th and 15th Centuries. But none is as close to my heart, as linked to my life.

Philippe Aries, "Notre-Dame de Toutes les Graces",
Le Nouvel Observateur, 23-29 December 1983, p 40.