The Tempera Painting Restoration

About the Workshop

The department for restoring icons and ancient Russian paintings was the first to appear at the Grabar Art Conservation Centre back in 1918. The workshop carries out restoration works on ancient (from the 12th century, for example) and more recent (20th century) icons. These include large (cathedral) icons, so-called pyadnitsa icons (icons the size of a pyad, an old Russian measure of length that was equal to the length between a person's outstretched thumb and forefinger) with miniature writing, and icons painted using egg tempera, which often contains gold leaves. Non-traditional work includes restoring church images that were originally created using a mixed technique (tempera and oil). Among the tasks of the restorers are the elimination of various kinds of damage to the wooden base or the layers of paint with gesso. In addition to icons, the workshop also carried out restoration work on artefacts that were created using ancient Russian painting techniques and technologies: painted wooden church plates, an armarium, and a birch bridal crown with a painting on it. Other cathedral items can be added to this list: Royal Doors (with frescoes and carvings) and sculptures. Restoration works are also performed on icon settings (basma, engraved and stamped).

More than 100 works of art are restored every year

Every year, more than 100 works of ancient Russian art are restored at the tempera paintings workshop, including exhibits of the leading art and natural history museums, as well as significant icons belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church.

The workshop's experts carry out necessary conservation and preservation works on site. They also provide consultations for museum staff on matters of storing and displaying works of art; advise on methods of mounting, packaging and transporting them; and regularly carry out check-ups of exhibits that have been restored at the Centre.

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The Centre has been carrying out restoration works on tempera paintings for almost 100 years

The tempera painting restoration workshop is the oldest within the Centre's structure. It opened its doors soon after the October Revolution in 1917. It developed a theory of restoring relics from the 12th to the 13th centuries that had been saved from being destroyed and exposed to later distortions, and which are now part of the golden fund of the Tretyakov Gallery, the State Russian Museum and the Moscow Kremlin Museum.

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The Restorers

Since 1981, the workshop has been run by Galina Tsirul, restorer of the highest class and Honoured Cultural Worker of the Russian Federation. A total of 24 art restorers and two researchers are employed by the workshop, 13 of whom are restorers of the highest class.

Scientific Research

Мастерская реставрации темперы ВХНРЦ постоянно ведет поиск новых материалов, а также совершенствует и развивает существующие методы работы. В практику было внедрено применение органических растворителей и специальных инструментов, используемых при реставрации. В мастерской используется и проводится обучение уникальной технике создания копий-реконструкций в материалах и техниках древнерусской живописи по методике, разработанной старейшим сотрудником, художником-реставратором высшей категории, Заслуженным деятелем искусств РФ Адольфом Николаевичем Овчинниковым.

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Another aspect of the workshop's activities is the ongoing and meticulous training of interns and apprentices, many of whom are students in faculties of restoration at Russian universities or employees at the restoration workshops of the Tretyakov Gallery, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, the State Hermitage Museum and other museums.

17 April 2021

15 апреля отошел ко Господу Адольф Николаевич Овчинников, известный реставратор, педагог и выдающийся копиист произведений древнерусской и грузинской монументальной живописи. 

15 April 2021

На 90-м году жизни скончался художник-реставратор высшей квалификации древнерусской и поствизантийской темперной живописи, икон и фресок, специалист по христианской символике Адольф Овчинников.

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08 April 2021

В Центре Грабаря прошло открытие новой выставки и презентация издания из серии «Исследования и реставрация одного памятника: Иоанн Предтеча Ангел пустыни в житии».

15 February 2019

В последние дни работы выставочного проекта «Иконы Каргополья. Возрождение» в Музейно-выставочном комплексе Российской Академии художеств прошла научно-практическая конференция «Иконы Каргополья как уникальный вариант русских «северных писем».

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