Restoration in a world-renowned workshop

In January 2017 the restoration of Mad Meg by Pieter Bruegel the Elder and the Peter Paul Rubens Self-portrait gets underway. The restoration of the paintings will take approximately one year and will be done in phases. The restoration is being carried out by the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA, Brussels). The workshop has a world-wide reputation – amongst others thanks to the restoration of the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb.

Technical examination

First the restorers give the painting a technical examination – with amongst others dendrochronology (the scientific discipline which consists of dating wooden objects) and a pigment analysis – then work on the restoration can commence. A first guiding principle for this is the data made available by experts.

In 2012 the research carried out by the team of prof. dr. Martens of the Universiteit Gent using macrophotography, infrared and x-rays brought to light astounding results about Mad Meg. It turned out that Pieter Bruegel had already baptised the painting Mad Meg, under the paint the word ‘dul’ was written in pen and ink. The work probably formed a series with the Fall of the Rebel Angels (Brussels, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium) and the Triumph of Death (Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado), which confirms the link. The examination also provided a detailed image of the preparatory drawings for the painting. So you can see that Mad Meg was originally sticking her tongue out. Later Bruegel decided to only paint strong lip outlines. The original colours were also revealed.

 

Back in 2019

Mad Meg will return to the spotlight during the big events programme that Flanders is preparing for 2019, as part of the commemoration of the 450th anniversary of Bruegel’s death. In the spring of 2019 the focus will be on Brussels, in autumn Antwerp pulls out all the stops with its very own Bruegel programme.