Albrecht Dürer, Adam and Eve, 1507 © Museo del Prado (España)
The first Getty Foundation training grant was devoted to the restoration of Albrecht Dürer’s seminal 1507 diptych Adam and Eve at the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain. The two panels were created in Nuremberg, Germany, following Dürer’s second sojourn in Italy. In their monumental grandeur and exquisite attention to line and color, they represent the highly original fusion of Italian and German influences for which Dürer was known.

Durer's Eve at the Prado

“Working on a team with George Bisacca and José de la Fuente was an invaluable experience. No two panel treatments are the same, and observing the decision–making process and carefully tailored approach for each painting was particularly instructive. The deep understanding of aesthetic and structural issues, and the fine skill these experts brought to the project, enriched my knowledge in ways I could not have imagined."
—Alan Michael Miller, Associate Conservator, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Work began with an in–depth look at the support panels and paint layers, utilizing a wide range of advanced scientific methods. Where needed, emergency conservation treatment was implemented to secure lifting paint. An international advisory committee of experts in the history and conservation of early Dutch and Flemish paintings is overseeing the effort. The results will be disseminated through lectures, seminars and workshops.

Durer's Eve during conservation by George Bisacca
The grant from the Getty Foundation allowed Prado conservator José de la Fuente to undertake the complex treatment of the two panels with the collaboration of Metropolitan Museum of Art senior conservator George Bisacca. It also enabled teams of young conservators from the Metropolitan and other museums to observe the restoration in progress.

In the fall of 2008, the conservators began by removing non–original restraints, so that both panels can now expand and contract in different environmental conditions without undue stress on the paintings. Then conservators mended cracks and affixed a new auxiliary support frame to the Adam painting to stabilize the panel. After structural work was completed, the paintings’ delicate surfaces were cleaned and re–varnished. Dürer’s masterpieces were returned to public view at the Prado in November of 2010.

Watch video of the conservation process at the Prado Museum in Madrid

Structural Conservation of Dürer's Adam and Eve Panels (Proceso de restauración del soporte de Adán y Eva de Durero), Museo del Prado

Museo Nacional del Prado

Top image: Albrecht Dürer, Adam and Eve, 1507 © Museo del Prado (España)