The Caravaggio 'The Taking of Christ' is removed from display at the National Gallery of Ireland after beetles were found to be chewing on the lining canvas behind the painting.
The Caravaggio masterpiece valued at £35 million was first put on display in the National Gallery of Ireland in 1993 and has been described as the jewel in the crown of the gallery's exhibits.
A member of the public noticed a small insect peeping out from the back of the painting. Upon investigation, it was discovered that there was an infestation of tiny beetles in the back of the lining canvas, behind the painting itself. To get rid of the infestation, the lining canvas was treated, and the next step is to repair it before the painting goes back on public view.
It is not known exactly where these beetles came from but Director of the National Gallery Raymond Keaveney assured the public that the Caravaggio itself was not damaged, as the insects were more interested in the glue on the lining canvas, than the painting,
They’re not unlike woodworm, they essentially have the same life cycle, and can appear and disappear in the same fashion...woodworm eat wood, these particular insects are interested, we believe, in the glue that was used to stick the lining canvas...
The gallery is consulting with experts to ensure that there are no further outbreaks of infestation and is confident that all its paintings will receive a clean bill of health.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 22 April 1997. The reporter is Colm Connolly.