Q: Further to the discussion about restoration some months ago, here is an example of a restoration I have had recently made on a mask. Just the scar of the break on the front side has been treated, all the other chips related to age and use have been left untouched. The break itself, glued many years ago, is still clearly visible on the backside. I wonder if they switched the eyes when they repaired the break because, strangely, the left eye shows a fissure not in relation with any fissure in the wood, although corresponding exactly to the break if transposed to the right side….but on the other hand the paint coating seems to be older than the break (there is no sign of repair of the paint after the break, till my recent restoration…. What would be your expert opinion? Jean, 1717
A: This is a “Mexican” who is an important character in a frequently performed Guatemalan dance. Probably from the last half of this century, it has been rented many times from a morreria (Spanish for “costume shop”). Those handmade glass eyes may be original, and it was repainted once or twice. The back is lettered with “JFNC” and “HAG,” the latter is probably the morreria owner’s initials.
Unfortunately it was broken in half and glued together, somewhat lowering it’s value. Jean has done an absolutely perfect job of restoring it. Even if you blow the front photo way up, you can’t tell it was glued together. I think something like this should be written small on the rear: “Restored” along with the date. That will forever prevent it from being sold unfairly. A+