Since the beginning of the restoration Estonian version of the Christ Driving the Money-lenders from the Temple has been slightly different from other three paintings, because of the changes which have been made in the work’s composition by painting over some farm animals. By researching the underdrawing the animals are clearly distinguishable, they are finely modelled and artist has painted them with a clear role in the painting’s composition. Hiding them underneath the underdrawing raises various questions – was it made for better compositional balance or has it some kind of symbolic meaning? But if the pig carried some kind of message which needed to be hidden, then why paint only one pig and leave other one be? Or why cover donkey, an animal who plays essential part of Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem?
It is known that covering of the animals took place quite shortly after finishing of the artwork, in the 17thcentury.
There are many overpaintings, which don’t come off so easily with a gel (which I mentioned in the previous post).
Probe from removing of overpainting on right side near sculpture (man with globe) on connection area of boards
Same problem revolves around hidden animals. Gel with usual ingredients doesn’t remove the overpainting from them and mechanical cleaning for such a big area needs much more time. It’s always possible to use more powerful ingredients in the gel (e.g. acetone), but it’s related to bigger risks, which doesn’t always pay off. So it's probably wise to leave the animals where they are until a better solution comes up.
Brownish spot - overpainting below Christ's leg
Interesting is that the overpaintings have turned out as a protective shield to the painting. Although they don’t get as much attention as an original painting, they carry interesting information. First series of overpaintings (in the 17thcentury) where made by a professional hand, showing that the painting was valued and important to it’s owner. Maybe then overpaintings should be more carefully examined and given more thought?