Museum Home Research and Conservation An In-Depth Look at Conservation Partnerships Hispanic Society Partnership


The Getty Museum and the Hispanic Society of America in New York recently established a cooperative relationship that has made it possible for the Museum to conserve and display the Hispanic Society's painting by El Greco, Holy Family. "We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to study, restore and exhibit a masterpiece by El Greco from the Hispanic Society," said Mark Leonard, conservator of paintings.


This is one of several cooperative arrangements between the Getty Museum's paintings conservation department and other institutions in which major works of art from outside the Getty have been treated free of charge and exhibited in the Getty Center galleries. During the past nine years, the Museum has conserved over sixty-five works from other collections, including the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and the Picture Gallery of the Staatliche Museen in Berlin.


Prior to cleaning and restoring the Holy Family, the Getty conservation team studied a number of cross-sections, X-rays, and infrared images to determine the painting materials and techniques used by El Greco. These studies not only guided the conservators' treatment, but also revealed new information about the image, such as the changes El Greco made to the Virgin's robe and to the drapery surrounding the Christ child.


The paintings conservation department also adapted a Spanish frame belonging to the Hispanic Society for use on the painting. The silver-leafed frame, which dates to the 1600s, required extensive repair and re-sizing to fit the Holy Family. Conservators also had to re-cast interior and exterior moldings and re-create decorative punch work using tools designed especially for the project.


The paintings conservation department also worked on Luis de Morales's The Virgin with the Yarn Winder from the Hispanic Society. The restoration of both paintings was supported by the generous assistance of the Friends of Heritage Preservation, a group of Los Angeles residents interested in conserving works of art.