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Before & After Gallery

Case Study #1: Restoration and Conservation of an Oil Painting

Similar to when skin has been too long in the sun, oil paint loses its flexibility and becomes tired and degraded over time. It then loses its adhesion to the canvas, lifts and sheds. When this happens it is vital that the painting is lined to reabsorb the pigment back into the canvas before more paint is lost. The before image demonstrates how the pigment has crystallised on the surface prior to extensive paint loss. The after image illustrates the lining with all the pigment reabsorbed back into the canvas. This crucial process allows the painting to regain its full density of colour by rejuvenating the painting to its original glory.

Painting: Chinese Oil Painting c1800



Case Study #2: Restoration and Conservation of a Frame

This exquisite 18th century frame is an excellent example of a frame that had suffered neglect resulting in all four corners being totally broken. The joints were taken apart, re-glued and repinned. To gain the best support, discrete wood backing plates were then pinned behind each corner. The surface of the gilding on both frames was cleaned, stabilised, and the central scroll along was repaired and rebuilt. Once all the minor chips and repair work had been undertaken, the frames were re-gilded and waxed. .



Case Study #3: Cleaning of an Oil Painting

This is a fine example of how a painting can respond when the surface dirt is removed with a light clean. It had been housed in an attic where damp had caused the pigment to ‘bloom’ resulting in large areas of opaque discolouration across the surface of the canvas. The painting had also been finished with a damar resin varnish which had become heavily discoloured with age. Once the stained varnish and engrained dirt had been delicately removed, the picture came to life with a superb depth of colour. The clothing revealed a lavish embroidery and the guards sparkled in their armour. The carpet at the feet of the Emperor, revealed its magnificent double headed eagle representing the power of both the church and state.

Painting: Frederick Wilhelm Martersteig (1814-1899) depicted Luther at Worms, in 1531



Case Study #4: Accidental Damage to an Oil Painting

Works of art are very vulnerable when being transported and this particular work was damaged by a foot through the painting. The picture had to be cleaned to remove the varnish and any surface dirt and subsequently lined as the tear was so extensive. The lining reabsorbs the pigment and it gives the painting support behind the large area of damage. A fine filler is then placed in the seams where the pigment had been lost, it is then retouched to a minimum and varnished.

Painting: 19th Century English School, Landscape



Case Study #5: Bespoke Framing

A frame can enhance or detract from a painting. This charming portrait had long since lost its original frame and was presented to me in a recently made narrow timber frame that had no dignity whatsoever. The after photograph reveals a unique carved frame (5 ½” / 14 cm wide) with a high back edge extensively decorated with leaves and beading. The wide central plateau then moves towards the inner decorated edge and a simple slanted inner slip leads the eye into the portrait itself. This powerful work had to have a frame of equal majesty to give it back its dignity.



Case Study #6: Water Damage to an Oil Painting

A house flood caused extensive damage to this beautiful portrait. The water totally dehydrated the oil paint causing extensive ‘blooming’ – where the pigment becomes white and ghost-like across the surface. In order to cure the damage, the painting had to be given a delicate clean before being lined urgently. The lining revived the pigment allowing the full density of colour to return once more.

Painting: Victorian Portrait of a Lady



Case Study #7: Acid & Damp Damage to a Watercolour & Pastel

This charming portrait arrived in a damp and damaged state. The whole picture had turned dark brown, stained by the acid in the backing boards and mount. Interspersed across the image were spots of damp and the colours had become distorted and inharmonious. The watercolour & Pastel needed to have all the acid cleaned away from the paper and during this process the pigment recovered its beautiful soft tones. The difference was startling for all to see and only emphasises how important it is to make sure that mounts and backing boards are acid free and, if possible, that the glass has a UV filter.

Painting: 19th Century watercolour, pastel and gouache (bodycolour) portrait, by John Hayter (1800-c.1891/5)