The Conversion of Saint Paul is an oil painting that has been part of the MNAC’s collections since 1952.When it entered the museum, it was attributed to the 18th-century painter from Valencia José de Vergara, an attribution that at the time generated certain doubts among specialists. Some years later, a small painting in a private collection was brought to lightshowing the same episode, with a virtually identical composition,attributed to the painter Juan Bautista Maíno (1581-1649),from Pastrana (Guadalajara). It could be the model for the painting in the MNAC that the artist must have presented to the client when he was commissioned to do an altar painting. Besides this link, the work in the MNAC also shows many formal and stylistic analogies with other works by Maíno, especially with the HighAltarpiece of the Four Feast Days, dated to between 1612 and 1614. The painting is therefore added to the catalogue of Juan Bautista Maíno and a dating of around 1614is proposed.
The restoration of The Conversion of Saint Paul has entailed the recovery of a painting that suffered the consequences of a fire in 1985 while it was hanging on an office wallin Barcelona Town Hall. It has also given us the opportunity to analyse the materials used, compare the results with those of other works by Maíno from the same period and check for similarities between them. The painting, however, has been restored previously, in work that can be dated to between 1945 and 1952 thanks to piece of newspaper that was found wedgedunderneath the canvas relining. X-ray inspection has clearly shown that the original canvas must have been relined because of the many tears and mutilations,and it has shown up numerous retouched areas. It has even made it possible to discover a strip of canvas added at the bottom, totally repainted, which was originally at the top of the painting. The completely blackened surface revealed a paint layer damaged by the heat, blistered and cracked. This explains the present tasks of cleaning, fixing, restoring the paint layer and placing the canvas in a new stretcher.
The publication contains a text about the attribution of the painting to Maíno, written by the head of the Cabinet of Drawings and Prints, and another onthe technical study and the restoration, written by the head of the MNAC’s Department of Restoration and Preventive Conservation. It includes a reproduction of the small painting that could have acted as a model and images of the work in the MNAC before restoration, during the work and at the end of the process, as well as the X-ray.
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