In Poland, in the restoration workshop of the National Museum in Krakow, the famous painting “The Ecstasy of St. Francis” by the Spanish painter El Greco has been restored. As a result of work on the restoration of the painting, its surface has increased in size by 7 percent.
“In the process of work, we rediscovered El Greco, and today the view of the picture is as close as possible to the state of the work, being in the artist’s studio,” says art critic, professor Andrzej Vitko.
During the restoration process, there were some discoveries. It turned out that some fragments of the canvas were bent under the frame. As a result, the surface of the work “increased” by 7 percent: by 4 centimeters in width and by 2 centimeters in height.
Also, the researchers discovered the third word of El Greco’s signature – “epoiei”, which means “fulfilled”. Now you can read in full: “Domenicos Theotocopoulos epoiei”. (in fact, the painter’s name was Domenikos Theotokopoulos).
Research has confirmed the suggestion that El Greco did not paint the stigma on St. Francis’s cassock – an element that was added later. The Conservatives decided to eliminate him.
The painting also received a modern frame with devices that automatically maintain a special microclimate, which will contribute to better preservation of work.
El Greco’s painting The Ecstasy of St. Francis dates back to 1575-1580. It is not known for certain when the work came to Poland. There is an assumption that at the beginning of the 19th century, it was brought by a soldier of the Napoleonic army who fought in Spain. However, this information remains unconfirmed. In 1927, the painting was put up for sale in an antique shop in Warsaw, where it was bought by clergyman Stanislav Shepetovsky from Podlasie at the request of his cousin. Shchepetovsky brought the work to the parish in Kosow Lyatsky, from where his cousin Francis Dombrowski took it.
The canvas survived during the war. And it was discovered in 1964 in the process of an inventory of works of art, which was carried out by Isabella Galicka and Hanna Segetynska from the Polish Academy of Sciences.
They noticed a canvas hanging in the house of a priest. Art critics recalled that the picture was darkened, torn in one corner, but there was something in it that immediately attracted their attention. Prior to that, for some time the canvas lay in the belfry among the things that were intended to be burned. However, the priest decided that the painting should not be burned, and took it home, where he hung it in his room.
After two years of research, it turned out that the author of the canvas is El Greco. This was confirmed by studies that were then carried out in 1974. During the restoration process, the signature “A. van Diick” was found, and under it the older and more authentic: “Dominikos Theotoko.”
After the exhibition in Cloth Hall, the work will return to the Diocesan Museum in Siedlce, to which the canvas belongs.