Frieze of Angels, detail

Were the murals damaged?

Prior to the 2003 restoration, it was generally thought that the Sargent murals had been badly damaged by a previous cleaning in 1953. Ives Gammell, a local Boston artist, publicly criticized the treatment. He considered the thin or abraded appearance of the murals to be evidence of damage. This image shows an example of the thin paint that Gammell may have observed. During the 2003 restoration, however, notions about the severely damaged state of the murals were often disproved.
Frieze of Angels, detail of thin paint over the angel’s head. Note the white canvas fabric visible through the paint layer (2003 photo)
The Triumph of Religion