A história técnica da conservação e restauro de pinturas no Brasil entre os anos de 1947 e 1985
: Edson Motta e seus seguidores

  • May Christina Cunha de Paiva (Student)

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The main objective of this thesis is to research and record the techniques of paintings conservation practiced by Edson Motta, João José Rescala and Jair Afonso Inácio, from 1947 through 1985, for the brazilian Instituto do Património Artístico e Histórico Nacional (IPHAN). Motta inherited ethical principles directly from conservators at the Department for Conservation and Technical Research (DCTR) Cambridge, USA. These originated from the ideas of John Ruskin, Victor Bauer-Bolton, Max Doerner, and from the so-called “philological restoration” practiced by Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle and Camilo Boito. On the other hand, the technical aspects researched for this thesis focused on the adaptation to the DCTR - and eventually to the IPHAN - of a well-established Dutch tradition that involved the use of wax-resin adhesives. The research probed the use of these compositions by Motta and his followers for linings, transfer and flattening of warped panels. The thesis also aims at highlighting the symbolic relevance of Brazil's cultural past - in particular the Portuguese -Brazilian artistic heritage - to explain the reasons for government initiatives for its preservation, through IPHAN, as well as the decision to send Edson Motta to intern at the DCTR. A large proportion of the thesis examines the conservation and restoration activities in Brazil before Motta's return from the Fogg Museum. It examines the pioneering initiatives by the Academia Imperial de Belas Artes, the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes, Museu Histórico Nacional (MHN) and the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes (MNBA). This study concludes that the conservation and restoration of paintings on canvas and on wood in Brazil owes its deontological identity and its structural conservation techniques to the Department for Conservation and Technical Studies of the Fogg Museum, which inherited them from long-standing European traditions. After returning from a one-year internship Edson Motta trained his main collaborators on the techniques and principles learned at the DCTR, and these where practiced - with few modifications and simplifications - to the conservation and restoration projects that he supervised for over three decades.
Date of Award22 Apr 2022
Original languagePortuguese
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorMaria Aguiar (Supervisor) & Eduarda Vieira (Supervisor)


  • Edson Motta
  • Department for Conservation and Technical Research
  • Instituto do Patrimonio Histórico e Artístico Nacional
  • Conservation of paintings
  • Principles and technique


  • Doutoramento em Conservação e Restauro de Bens Culturais

Cite this