The Rubens ceiling up close
The Rubens ceiling up close

We’re in the main hall of the Banqueting House at Whitehall Palace It features a magnificent ceiling of nine large scale canvases by Sir Peter Paul Rubens that were commissioned by Charles I to commemorate the achievements of his father James I The paintings are of tremendous significance artistically and historically they are magnificent pieces of works of art and also the ceiling scheme is the only remaining scheme by Peter Paul Rubens in an architectural setting for which it was intended We’ve installed scaffolding to reach 60 metres above and carry out technical investigation and tests to the ceiling paintings by Rubens and the surrounding Inigo Jones coffering It’s our intention through this to find out as much as possible about the paintings and the coffering so we know how to care for them We have three specialist teams on the scaffold carrying out the investigation and trials We have one team that are revealing through scrapings the underlying and original paint scheme of the ceiling coffering We have one team that are doing scientific imaging of the paintings to determine how they were made and also we have a third team who are painting specialists who are removing some of the degraded varnishes on the Rubens paintings to reveal what remains In 1906, the oil paintings on canvas were pasted onto plywood boards this was to stop them from sagging and ensure their preservation so part of our investigation therefore includes going into the roof void above the paintings to check to see if those plywood structures are indeed in good condition today or whether we need to do some work to make them structurally sound This is a vital piece of research on the Rubens ceiling for today and for generations to come.

2 thoughts on “The Rubens ceiling up close”

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