Robert Delaunay created the large-scale painting Eiffel Tower, the last in a series, in Paris in 1928. Colourfully depicting the Eiffel Tower in Paris from a bird’s eye view, it was inspired by photographs taken from aeroplanes. The Eiffel Tower virtually becomes a rocket, seeming to take off from the earth. An advanced state of ageing, numerous revisions, soiling and old restorations, as well as a now cloudy finish, prompted the conservation and restoration of the painting for its prominent inclusion in the Neue Nationalgalerie’s inaugural reopening exhibition.
Robert Delaunay at work on Eiffel Tower, 1928 © Germaine Krull
The work environment for the restoration of Robert Delaunay’s Eiffel Tower © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / Hana Streicher
The painting exhibited an overall diffuse and noticeably uneven visual effect because of surface soiling and the partially milky (i.e. blanched) and irregularly applied finish coat that covered the colourful work like a grey smear. There were numerous areas with loosened layers of paint across the work’s entire surface.
The restoration objective was to secure all areas of the paint layer threatened by separation and to give the painting a cohesive and visually aesthetic overall impression.
The measures were accompanied by extensive art-technological examinations such as macro and microscopic inspections under visible light as well as UV excitation, sampling and analyses.
Overall view under UV excitation © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / Hana Streicher
Detail, showing clear streaks in the finish © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / Hana Streicher
The deterioration of the finish or varnish known as blanching appears opaque white and can, in some cases, be regenerated with the help of solvents. Such interventions must be carefully considered to achieve the desired effect and avoid any damage to the original substance. In Delaunay’s Eiffel Tower, the original appearance was severely distorted by soiling and blanching. Thanks to the measures carried out by the restorer, the painting has regained its readability.
Project management: Hana Streicher, Restoration department of the Neue Nationalgalerie
Planning / Coordination: Hana Streicher
Implementation: Hana Streicher und Ina Hausmann