The sculpture of Saint Anthony from Saint Francis Xavier’s Cathedral in Adelaide is usually on display in the cathedral for parishioners and visitors. The sculpture is originally from Italy, possibly from the late 1800s, and is carved in wood and polychromed.

It differs slightly from the usual St Anthony iconography (the Saint holding a lily), and in this version,
St Anthony is holding a loaf of bread, symbolising care for the poor.

Artlab was approached by the Cathedral to propose a conservation treatment plan as the sculpture had several losses and staining on the painted surface. Also, two fingers of the Christ Child and a section of the rope cincture, around St Anthony’s habit, were broken and had been misplaced.

The losses on the painted surface were in-filled and in-painted and some of the staining had been reduced. The missing fingers and rope were re-constructed and re-attached. After conservation treatment the sculpture of St Anthony is now back on display at the Cathedral.

Sculpture before treatmentSaint Anthony sculpture before treatment.

Conservator working on sculptureFilipa Quintela, Objects Conservator managed the conservation treatment. Filipa re-constructing and shaping the Christ Child’s missing fingers.

Conservator working on sculptureIn-painting the reconstructed fingers.

Conservator working on sculptureIn-filling the break on the surface.

Conservator working on sculptureIn-painting the fills.

Conservator working on sculptureReconstruction of a new piece of rope for the cincture.

Conservator working on sculptureIn-painting the replacement rope.

Sculpture after treatmentThe sculpture of Saint Anthony after conservation treatment by Filipa Quintela.