Completed Project

San Agustin Convent in Salamanca

Salamanca, Mexico

Background

The Convent of San Agustín in Salamanca was built by Jesuit missionaries in the 17th century. For the church, sculptor Pedro José de Rojas created a huge, wooden Baroque. Changes in humidity and temperature over time had caused the organic adhesive used to bond the wooden altarpiece couplings to weaken, compromising the structural stability of the entire altarpiece. Insect infestation had damaged the figures on the altarpiece and a film of dust was actively degrading the polychrome portions of the surface. As a temporary structural solution to prevent collapse, several sections of the altarpiece were supported by a piercing metal wire, which had detracted from the overall presentation.

How We Helped

In 2001 WMF supported the restoration of the altarpiece, which consisted of cleaning, fumigation, analysis, and consolidation. The project included cleaning the existing polychrome, applying a durable agent to the cracks and couplings, repositioning the structural elements, re-gilding defective spots, determining the most effective bonding agent to suit the conditions in order to consolidate the structure, re-applying polychrome, and coating the figures with protective sealing so they would be stabilized in the future.

Why It Matters

Pedro José de Rojas created three altarpieces to launch his career, one in Querétaro, one in Celaya, and one in Salamanca. San Agustín Convent in Salamanca contains his only surviving Baroque altarpiece and it reflects the politics and history in the region during that time. Restoring the altarpiece has preserved Rojas’s legacy.

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