Help us raise £15,000 to conserve our painting for people to enjoy for years to come
At Upton House one of our most important paintings is the ‘Massacre of the Innocents’ by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c.1525/30-69). The painting depicts the massacre of young children, ordered by Herod following the birth of Christ. However the biblical scene is portrayed as a contemporary event set in a Flemish village. It is intended as a criticism of the repressive Spanish forces then holding sway in the Netherlands.
Upton’s painting is a rare version of Bruegel’s masterpiece, the original of which is in the Royal Collection at Hampton Court. In the painting in the Royal Collection, the innocent children were later over-painted and changed into poultry and other animals to make the scene more palatable for contemporary viewers in the Spanish controlled Netherlands.
The condition of the painting has recently deteriorated significantly, with paint flaking off. As you can see from one of the photos, we have temporarily used conservation paper to secure these areas (as you can see in one of the photos). We are displaying the painting like this to our visitors until the mid-March when it will have to be taken off display due to its unstable condition. Until restoration has taken place it will remain in store and not be accessible to those who wish to view it.
Before remedial conservation work takes place we need to carry out investigative work at a specialist studio to determine the extent of the deterioration and the exact treatment required. This would include the use of X-Radiography, pigment analysis and Infra-Red examination. This would also help us to answer some important questions about the pictures provenance and attribution.
The varnish will then have to be removed, the paint layers consolidated and areas of loss re-touched, before re-varnishing takes place.
To do this work and ensure that future generations can enjoy this painting, we need to raise £15,000. Please help us if you can, even a small donation will make all the difference to us.