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Restoration in an Exhibition Gallery: Salvador Dalí

The restoration of Salvador Dalí’s monumental triptych ‘Landscape with girl skipping rope’ from 1936 took place in one of the exhibition galleries from June 12 to September 8, 2010. It is the first time that the museum has carried out a restoration in the presence of spectators. The team that restored the triptych by the Spanish artist made a surprising discovery...

Photo: Bob Goedewaagen
Photo: Bob Goedewaagen
Photo: Bob Goedewaagen
Photo: Bob Goedewaagen

The tryptich ‘Landscape with girl skipping rope’ from 1936 is part of an important loan in 2010 to the Palazzo Reale in Milan of six paintings and one sculpture by Salvador Dalí in connection with his first retrospective in Italy, all the works to be lent out were conserved and made presentable.

Two paintings underwent a restoration. The treatments were carried out by studio Redivivus under the supervision of Gwendolyn Boevé-Jones.

Happy childhood memory

Happy childhood memory

Dalí made this triptych for the house of Edward James, the eccentric Englishman who supported him financially. The girl with a skipping rope symbolises a happy childhood memory. Her form is echoed by that of the bell in the tower. The figures on the right, one half skinned, could be Dalí and his dead older brother after whom he was named.

Newly presented

The paintings ‘Le grande paranoïaque’ from 1936, ‘Le visage de la guerre’ from 1940, ‘Table Solaire’ from 1936 and ‘Impressions d'Afrique’ from 1938 were conserved and made presentable. This means checking the adhesion of the paint layer, removing surface dirt and suppressing any discoloured retouching. Furthermore, the framing was improved where necessary and the glass replaced with Optimum acrylic.

The canvas ‘Espagne’ from 1938 was restored; the badly discoloured varnish was removed and the unsightly coloured retouches were eliminated. The work was then completely retouched and varnished afresh.

On the ‘Venus de Milo’ from 1936, a gap at the foot of the sculpture was filled in.

The restoration of another work by Dalí, started in 2008, was completed in 2010: ‘The Couple with their head filled with clouds’ from 1936. Because of the fragility of this work, it did not travel to Milan.

Newly presented
Salvador Dalí, Espagne, 1938, oil on canvas, purchase with the support of: Vereniging Rembrandt 1979
Salvador Dalí, Couple aux têtes pleines de nuages, 1936, oil on canvas, purchase with the support of: Vereniging Rembrandt 1979

Salvador Dalí, Couple aux têtes pleines de nuages, 1936, oil on canvas, purchase with the support of: Vereniging Rembrandt 1979

Balance

The initial aim of the 2010 restoration was to restore the balance between the central panel and the two side panels. This equilibrium was lacking because the side panels were in relatively good condition while the central panel was in a poor condition: there were repaired tears in the canvas, discoloured areas of overpainting and an extra section had been added to the lower part of the canvas. The purpose of the restoration is to restore as much as possible the unity of the three panels.

Restoration: Salvador Dalí’s ‘Landscape with a Girl Skipping Rope’. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has restored one of the highlights of the collection, the monumental triptych Landscape with a Girl Skipping Rope (1936) by surrealist painter Salvador Dalí. The restoration could be viewed from 11 June until mid-August 2010 in the Serrahall in the museum. More information

Bombing and rigorous restoration

The damage to the central panel was sustained during the bombing of London during the Second World War, when the triptych was in the home of Edward James. James had the central panel moved to his country estate, West Dean in West Sussex. The side panels were not damaged and were loaned in 1958 to the Tate Gallery, where they were restored in 1972, shortly before being acquired by Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. The central panel was restored in the 1960s: the overpainting and additional section were probably added at this time.

 

Did you know

the triptych was especially made for Edward James’s house? James was a wealthy, eccentric Englishman who supported various Surrealist artists financially. James is even portrayed in René Magritte’s painting ‘Not to Be Reproduced’!

Surprising discovery

In 2010 the team that restored Dalí's triptych ‘Landscape with a Girl Skipping Rope’ made a surprising discovery: originally not only the two side panels had frames, but all three panels. As the result of a turbulent history, during which the panels were separated for some time, the work was displayed for many years without a frame around the central panel.

At some point between the Second World War and the restoration, the frame of the central panel must have been lost. Originally, the restoration team discovered, the lowest portions of all three panels were covered by a frame, but for many years the triptych was displayed without a frame around the central panel with the result that the three panels did not hang at the same height.

Photo: Bob Goedewaagen
Photo: Bob Goedewaagen
Photo: Bob Goedewaagen
Photo: Bob Goedewaagen

Shocking change

Following extensive research, the restoration team approached the difficult task of making a new frame for the central panel, which would be as close as possible to the original, but which could be easily removed for transportation and would not dominate the panel. With the addition of this new frame, the three panels were once again the same length, as they had been in the 1930s. It was a shocking change for some loyal museum visitors, who had seen the unevenness in the panels as a characteristic of Dalí’s idiosyncratic work.

 

This video offers a peek behind the scenes of a large art transport. More information

Dalí hits the road

In May 2016 the triptych ‘Landscape with a Girl Skipping Rope’ by Salvador Dalí is off on its travels. The painting will feature in ‘Surreal Encounters | Collecting the Marvellous’ in The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

After a stay in Hamburg for the same travelling exhibition, the work will return to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in the spring of 2017. Dalí’s painting will then appear in ‘Mad about Surrealism’ in Boijmans, alongside many other works by the first generation of Surrealists, including René Magritte, Max Ernst and Joan Miró.

A big exhibition about Dalí took place in the winter of 1970-1971. Watch the video below about this special man in Rotterdam and the woman who brought him here.