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Cleaning and conservation



Cleaning and conservation



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One of Philip Hendy's first tasks at the National Gallery was to rehabilitate the pictures that had been returned to London from air-conditioned war storage at Manod Quarry, near Blaenau Ffestiniog, Wales. In 1946 Hendy established the new Conservation Department and soon after employed Helmut Ruhemann as restorer. In 1947 Hendy organised an exhibition of cleaned paintings which unleashed a barrage of criticism. It was alleged that Rubens' 'Chapeau de Paille', Koninck's 'View in Holland', Velasquez's 'Bust of Philip IV' and Rembrandt's 'Woman Bathing' had been spoiled. A Government inquiry was launched in 1947, followed by an internal National Gallery investigation into the work of Helmut Ruhemann and the cleaning process in 1951. The results of both inquiries were favourable for Hendy and the Gallery.

Hendy was involved in the debate on the cleaning of pictures for the rest of his career, and sat on an international advisory committee in 1958-1960 to consider the conservation of Ruben's 'Descent from the Cross'

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