This page is dedicated to all recent goings-on here in our studio and further afield.

Unveiling Hidden Landscapes

17th Century Portrait of the Duke of Monmouth


On a recent valuation to appraise some paintings for insurance and possible conservation, I found this intriguing portrait hanging in a dark corner. Covered in retouching from a crude attempt to restore it in the past, this handsome seventeenth-century period portrait of James Scott, Ist Duke of Monmouth (1649-1685), was in seriously poor condition.
Our studio was immediately entrusted with its conservation and that of the later, classical style, trophy frame, and here you can witness the staggering 'before' and 'after' state.

The painting was covered in thick layers of overpaint completely changing the sitter's demeanor and the artist's intended expression: the result of yet another appalling piece of restoration. The background was entirely repainted giving the portrait a hard, almost artificial look. While our studio worked very carefully to develop the least invasive approach for the removal of the extensive retouching and darkened varnish, we uncovered something truly remarkable. There, behind the grime and recent overpaint was a hidden landscape visible through a classical archway, and, in addition, the body of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, which had all, hitherto, remained hidden.

One can only marvel at the vandalism to which the portrait had been exposed, and how tender and beautiful it is now, enabling one to see the lightness of touch with which it had originally been painted.
Following the cleaning, minor retouching was applied to areas of paint loss so as to enable the original artist's work to emerge in all its glory. Finally, the sensitivity with which the Duke of Monmouth, along with his canine companion, had been painted was there for all to behold, once more, and the extraordinary transformation was now complete.

It came in this simple gold leaf and gesso beaded, trophy, cassetta frame. This we cleaned, stabilised and conserved with 22 carat gold leaf, along with the coronet. The painting now awaits our research over its attribution and then it can be returned to his descendants.

Oil Portrait in Sunderland frame

Before & After

This dazzlingly beautiful portrait in its stunning Sunderland frame has recently been completed by our studio, and returned to our thrilled clients.

Both the painting AND frame had suffered catastrophic damage in the past, when the family home was destroyed. We removed ALL the invasive retouching and, painstakingly, retouched it.

The frame was treated with immense care as well and freshly gilded with 22 carat gold leaf, and then 'distressed' to age it so that both painting and Mannerist Sunderland frame can now sing with joy!

Grand Manner Portrait

BEFORE & AFTER

Here is the next in our exciting series of conserved portraits and frames:

This handsome portrait has returned to the family after a generation or two, much to their excitement. We were invited to conserve it prior to her returning home and this involved removing many layers of unnecessary over-paint. Once that was all gone the exquisite quality of the sitter's dress was revealed in all its majesty. It was an honour to work on such a glorious Grand Manner portrait and to attend to the beautiful frame.

🌟 BEFORE & AFTER ✨

Pieter Verelst (1616/18 – 1678) Portrait

This exquisite Pieter Verelst (1616/18 – 1678) portrait came to us for conservation from one of the most significant private collections in this country.

It needed to be given a very gentle clean to remove decades of engrained dirt and a much-darkened varnish. As a work on Baltic oak panel, it was in truly remarkable condition, largely owing to the quality of the artist's work and that of his panel maker. The French Louis XIVth carved and gilded frame, was very much the fashion of the time. As the great French king was one of the movers and shakers of the western world, and Dutch old masters were regularly framed in this style to fit in with the Parisienne style.

This is a very fine example of the period being beautifully carved and gilded, however, I prefer to see paintings of this quality and period framed in their Dutch 'livery', in fine wide ripple mouldings made from ebony or amboyna that set them off and place them within the context of their roots – the magnificent Dutch Golden Age.

Gascon Stone Coat of Arms

Before & After

This exceptional stone coat of arms was brought to us for conservation from a Crusader castle in Gascony. It had been found under the floor boards and the clients were overjoyed!

It had, in fact, been restored before with over zealous, much yellowed, glue. We removed this and repaired the stone, cleaning, stabilising and improving the colour. Finally we added sections to balance the piece and improved the lower cill so that it can now sit, without support, on its base, and it will shortly be returned to its original home.

17th century Angus Dei door

Before & After

We wanted to make something incredibly sensitive and deferential so that the beauty of this exquisite carved and gilded door shone through whilst at last being returned to use. Much of the carving of the Lamb of God had broken away over the centuries and this we replicated, carving the missing sections before adding gesso, and regilding it throughout on a terracotta bole base.

We then constructed the 'cabinet', replicating the contour of the tabernacle door, adding the same style of beading and we felt a soft terracotta / pink wash would be the most appropriate colouring to enable the original carving to shine once more in all its glory!