Restoration of Flagellation of Christ

Title Restoration of Flagellation of Christ
Material Marble
Conservator(s) Oleg Sinitsyn
Workshop Objects Conservation

This marble relief was damaged in a fire during the Second World War. It was shattered into many fragments. Almost all of the fragments have survived, with only a few being lost. The surface of the relief was badly stained by combustion products, but fortunately, the structure of the marble was not damaged by heat. Analysis of the chipped fragments showed that the relief had already been broken into at least two pieces at the time of the fire. It should be noted that in 2015, the Pushkin Museum, together with the Bode Museum in Berlin, launched a project aimed at restoring works of art long considered irretrievably lost during the Second World War and exhibiting them.

The project involved comprehensive research into the composition of the contaminants, the condition of the surfaces of the objects and the precise identification of the materials used for the sculptures, bas-reliefs and their coatings. Based on the results of numerous samples and analyses, a unique reactant was developed in Russia to clean the surface of the stone from the surface contamination resulting from the fire.

During the restoration work, further research was carried out on the use of this agent, and a cleaning method was developed. During the cleaning, the reagent is applied to the surface in compresses and draws the impurities out of the marble. Thus, with the help of scientific research and some experiments, the surface of the marble relief Flagellation was cleared of traces of fire and regained its natural colour. When the fragments were assembled, it became clear that the reverse side of the relief is convex. An additional difficulty was that the relief is very thin, in some places up to 5 mm thick. To reassemble it, a tray was made with a spring plate that takes the shape of the reverse side of the relief. The next stage of the restoration work was to fill the cracks with adhesive filler and glue the fragments together. The restored relief is now whole.