I’ve posted previously about the exciting research, fundraising and mural conservation efforts for an extremely important and historic element of the main chapel of the Santa Barbara Mission. The 1786 backdrop was designed with architectural features, statues and lots of color enhancing the stone wall at the head of the chapel behind the altar with richness and movement that enhanced the devotional activities, experiences and emotions. And additional value of this important feature is that it’s colors and design were probably influenced and painted by the indigenous members of the community.
Damaged badly in several earthquakes it was finally removed, rolled up and put into storage. Along the way, several attempts were made to restore it but the Lienzo was very brittle and very heavy. It’s understandable that the Padres gave up on its maintenance and restoration given their lack of knowledge in such matters. In fact, the story goes, that a section of the Lienzo was used as a sail for a small boat that sunk in the bay.
So, given that, after mural conservation efforts, it’s use as a full sized Lienzo at the head of the chapel is not possible… and given that it is so fragile and that it is not complete… it was decided to use the remaining sections for display as backdrops in small side chapels and exhibits at the Mission complex.
Actually, I love the idea of some of the sections being used inside chapels behind an altar as this fulfills the purpose for which it was created historically.
The effort of painting conservation included stabilizing lifting paint, re-joining breaks and rips, cleaning, carefully inpainting (limited retouching with reversible paint… we never use oil paint) and, very important, a backing was applied that allowed the mural to be mounted to the wall and protected against future earthquakes. To see how the mural was reinstalled, click on the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4Bi0-8oZ6M and forward to the 4;30 minute. We are confident that these preservation and restoration treatments will ensure its presence and historical relevance far into the future.
Congratulations to the Mission’s Executive Director, Dr. Monica Orozco and the Friends of the Mission who were responsible for saving such an important part of our history in the community and State of CA. Dr. Orozco has been a champion for ongoing quality preservation and restoration efforts following professional standards of practice.
Fine Art Conservation Laboratories is honored to be part of this historic preservation work.
There are a total of five panels in need of conservation, costing close to $100,000 for the entire project. If interested in supporting this project, donate today at https://www.santabarbaramission.org/online-donation/ and select the Lienzo Conservation Project in the drop down.
Contributions can also be sent to (and make the check out to) “Old Mission Santa Barbara” at 2201 Laguna Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93103. You may also contribute with a credit card by calling (805) 682-4713.
See more about art conservation efforts at https://www.sbmal.org/conservation
Questions or media call Scott M. Haskins
805 570 4140 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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