Conservation and Philosophy: Narcissus Admiring His Reflection

Formerly on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston this study of Francesco Curradi’s Narcissus Admiring His Reflection was a focal point in our studio recently. Narcissus was the self-loving fellow who admired himself so much that he couldn’t pull himself away from the reflecting pool. As our team of conservators diligently worked to remove several centuries of dust, dirt, and grime from Narcissus, we pondered what he would think about all of the attention he received from us while under our care. 


We talked about how in the digital era, some might say that online social media profiles are the narcissist’s reflection pool of today. Certainly not all who use social media exhibit the extreme selfishness, craving for admiration, and grandiose sense of one’s self that characterized Narcissus, but as we discussed the theme of the work, we all agreed that this cautionary tale depicted by Curradi in the 17th century is certainly still relevant today.