While wall painting conservation at The Courtauld is deeply rooted in the painted heritage of the British Isles, the past two decades have seen our interests and engagement expand across the globe. The Courtauld has been instrumental in pioneering improved conservation in Malta where the department has lead a number of fieldwork projects including the conservation of the Baroque ceiling paintings in the church of Our Lady of Victory, Valletta, the 16th-century Grand Master’s chapel paintings in the Presidential Palace, and an 18th-century scheme in the Grand Masters’ crypt of St John’s Co-Cathedral. For over a decade we worked in Cyprus to conserve some of the most important Byzantine and post-Byzantine painted churches in the Troodos mountains, most notably the painting cycles at Agios Sozomenos in Galata and Agios Ioannis Lampadistis monastery in Kalopanayiotis. In the cave monastery of Vardzia, Georgia, the internationally important 12th-century wall paintings in the Church of the Dormition of the Virgin were investigated in a collaborative venture with the country’s National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation and the Tbilisi Apollon Kutateladze State Academy of Arts.
In more recent years, The Courtauld has sought to engage with the conservation of wall paintings in Asia and has been undertaking numerous projects in northern India, not only at the 18th-century Nagaur Fort but also at Garh Palace at Bundi, home to some of the finest and earliest surviving wall paintings in Rajasthan. In China, The Courtauld works in a close partnership with the Dunhuang Academy and the Getty Conservation Institute to conserve the extraordinary Mogao Grottoes. It is arguably the most important site of Buddhist painting in the world, with 45,000 m2 of painting dating from the 5th to the 14th centuries. Collaboration with the Department of Culture of the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs in Bhutan has enabled two major projects to conserve some of the country’s spectacular wall paintings. Dating to the 16th century, Tamzhing monastery has one of the earliest surviving painting schemes in the country, and those at Tango monastery are the work of exceptionally accomplished 17th-century artists. The international reach and local-level engagement evidenced by these projects are testament to the department’s core principles and underpin The Courtauld’s commitment to raising standards in the conservation of wall paintings.