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Recent Work

Conservation of an historic Vellum Scroll

We recently had the great pleasure of conserving a very fine illuminated velum scroll dating from the reign of George III. It arrived at our studio, tightly rolled, in its original decorated leather box. With our team of expert works on paper conservators, we first dry cleaned the velum to remove the superficial surface dirt. Next, the manuscript was carefully humidified and pressed to reduce the rolling, so that it could be both safely and handsomely displayed in a deep cut French fold mount. Japanese tissue paper was then attached at the edges to allow the document to be drummed to an acid free foam board.

As experts in frames, we then selected and made a bespoke gilded frame to reflect the document and wax seal’s extravagant design. It was chosen to compliment the private client’s existing Carlo Maratta frames, so that the document could be hung harmoniously alongside other related pieces of historic interest. Special UV glass was also fitted to ensure that the vibrant colouring will be protected from harmful and bleaching sun light.

The beautiful original eighteenth century box, decorated in stamped leather, was also consolidated and repaired. Original leatherwork was reattached to the box which had become detached.


October 2017

Our studio has been tackling some rather diverse and varied artworks recently. From eighteenth century marines to twentieth century modern art, we have been busy both conserving and restoring paintings of all genres. In some cases, we have also been creating brand new bespoke frames for artworks in need of a visual lift.

The first work, an early nineteenth century Chinese picture of a Tea Party, presented a great challenge. Not only were the vibrant colours of the picture hidden by a thin yellowed varnish, but, large areas of open craquelure were distracting from the overall quality of the picture. This was particularly pronounced in the darker areas, where the bright ground visible through the craquelure produced a very jarring effect. This was reversed with very subtle and delicate retouching, using the point of the brush only, which has allowed the landscape and figures to sit alongside each other more sympathetically.

Secondly, a twentieth century African picture from the Congo came in for treatment a few months ago from a private client. Surprisingly, this work presented a much greater challenge than many of the older pictures that regularly arrive at our studio. Modern paints, mixed medias, matt varnish, applied in a bold manner and with monotone colouring, are more susceptible to damage and wear. They are also much more difficult to retouch, as modern paint can sometimes be more unforgiving than those produced centuries ago. As the canvas came to us without a frame we created a new one from scratch, taking inspiration from the picture itself. The result, as seen below, is extremely pleasing and has elevated the work considerably.


Restoration of a Seventeenth Century Portrait

Although completed a while ago, we wanted to share a fabulous before and after image of a seventeenth century portrait conserved here in our studio.

Having arrived with various tears, losses and a dried out varnish, we set about conserving the picture with the utmost care and consideration. Although the damage was quite considerable in parts, it was clear that good quality paint work was still evident in much of the face and drapery. The painting was relined and given a delicate clean to remove old and discoloured varnished. Once this had been completed, the true quality of the picture was exposed for the first time in decades. Amongst the many fine details revealed during cleaning was the brilliantly painted feigned oval composed of a laurel wreath in monochrome paint, a device often employed by the likes of Mary Beale.

After careful varnishing and retouching, we provided a new ebony style frame to compliment the character and period of the picture.


September Newsletter

Please follow the link below to access our September Newsletter. Our picture of the month, which is accompanied by a brief summary, is a stunning drawing by Eric Ravilious (1903-1942) entitled Men at Break.

JULIA KORNER'S SEPTEMBER NEWSLETTER


Restoration Video

 

We've recently uploaded a short video showing the exciting process of removing yellowed varnish mixed with decades worth of dirt and grime. Click on the link above to view.


Restoration of oils by Thomas Butterworth

This August we had the pleasure of bringing two maritime paintings by Thomas Butterworth (1768-1842) back to life.  Buttersworth began his career as a seaman painter before he was invalided in 1800. Some of his most successful works, apart from his oils, are the large number of watercolours by the artist preserved in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

The two oils on canvas were brought in for treatment from a private collection. Much faded from yellowed and dulled varnish, and considerably over-painted; these two naval scenes showed signs of great promise once small windows of the paint layer had been exposed during cleaning tests. After the complete removal of the varnish layers, areas of damage were stabilised and prepared for careful retouching. As illustrated, one of the pictures was missing a large section of sky and needed complete reconstruction. Ensuring a harmonious reading of the painting, especially considering such a significant loss, is always the primary consideration of any approach to careful and considerate restoration. Replicating the smooth modulations of sky and clouds is a true test of the ability of the conservator. Minor and more simple losses could be found around the stretcher lines, often resulting from a slack canvas being allowed to move far too freely in its frame. Once given a new coat of varnish, the colours including the blues, reds and yellows became saturated and play their part in achieving the original intentions of the artist. The same effect can be observed when dipping a pebble into the ocean, varnish acts as the film to allow the colour to achieve its full depth and brilliance.

Finally, but equally important, is the framing. Copies were made of a surviving frame, which had descended with one of the pictures, to ensure the paintings hung harmoniously together in their intended environment. An unsympathetic frame, which works against the artwork instead of for it, can produce the most jarring effect. It is for this reason that we believe so vehemently in a rounded approach towards fine art; its conservation, restoration and display. 


Summer 2017 Newsletter

Please follow the link below for our Summer 2017 Newsletter. Included within is a brief piece focusing on our Picture of the Month A view of Lake Como by artist John 'Warwick' Smith.

SUMMER 2017 NEWSLETTER

 

 


A Brief History of Frames

Sati Scene c.1770-71 by Tilly Kettle (1735-1786) held in an outset cornered William Kent style frame made in the studio by Julia

 

Below this you can download a copy of the article that Julia wrote for the Art Framing Today trade magazine (August 2016 edition).  Julia takes us on a journey through the golden age of frame-making in Europe, from the Mediaeval period to the 19th century.  The frame is an essential part of a painting, and plays an important role that is often overlooked.

Follow this link: www.juliakorner.com/public/Art_Business_Today_Julia_Korner_article_on_the_History_of_Frames.pdf   

 
 

 


Conservation Of The Portrait Busts For The Royal Society of Musicians

While The Royal Society of Musicians is mid-way through a two-year project to refurbish its new offices, Julia restores eight of its busts of composers.  Eight composers, Beethoven, Chopin, D'oyly Carte, Gounod, Handel, Haydn, Mellon and Parry, have had their busts conserved by Julia.  An average of 50 hours' careful retouching, waxing and polishing has been lavished on each bust. 

Follow this link for the complete article: www.juliakorner.com/public/RSM_-_A_perfect_marriage_of_art_and_music.pdf

 


Conservation of two badly-damaged, oval 17th Century Baroque / ‘Kneller’ frames for the Charterhouse

As part of the long-term conservation programme currently under way at the Charterhouse, Sutton’s Hospital, Charterhouse Square, Julia’s studio has recently completed the conservation of two badly-damaged, oval 17th Century Baroque / ‘Kneller’ frames. Over the centuries the frames had so deteriorated as to threaten their very survival intact, as all four joints, top and bottom, had lost virtually all symmetry and cohesion. The original gilding had long since vanished and been replaced, many decades ago, with a layer of gold paint. Even this colour had almost disappeared, as the surface had become so dry and degraded that scraps of the original layers of material were falling away. The statutes of the Charterhouse, owing to its age as an eminent charitable foundation, do not permit it, regrettably, to spend any part whatsoever of its financial resources, on the conservation of its heritage collection, Julia, in recognition of these constraints, decided therefore to carry out, on a pro-bono basis, the urgent conservation of these frames to encourages others to support on a similar basis the urgent work needed to preserve the collection for the enjoyment of future generations. Shown below is some of the detail of the work involved in the conservation of the frames.

 

John Sheffield, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Normanby, KG, PC, (1648-1721) Detail of the John Sheffield Frame Spencer Compton, 1st Earl of Wilmington, KG, KB, PC (c.1673-1743)