Painting Restoration

(JessicaMok? ) -- See attached MS Word document at bottom of JessicasNotebook for writeup on restoration of da Vinci's last supper + notes from -mrc.

There are many places that offer entire series of courses on painting restoration, including the biochemistry, the mechanical techniques, etc. Clearly we are going to make just a start at understanding (i) what goes wrong over time and (ii) how it can be fixed. There are also different types of techniques for different paintings (oils, tempera, fresco) and different substrates (wood, plaster, canvas). It may be appropriate to focus on just a subset of this large topic.

Some things that one can buy for (trained) do-it-yourself restoration:

All paintings clean differently. Usually there is a dirt layer on top of an amber yellow/brown natural resin varnish layer. "Usually" unfortunately doesn't happen all that often. Most paintings have been "tampered" with in some way. People have used all kinds of cleaning solutions and coatings on the surfaces of paintings so the conservator never knows what will be encountered. Various soaps are used to remove grime,dirt, grease, and nicotine layers. Various solvent solutions are used to carefully remove and reduce oxidized varnish layers and the conservator tries to go down layer by layer. If the original varnish is intact and unstained underneath all the added layers that is a bonus and it can be left in place.
Source: -- Several good links at the bottom of this page
Q: What is dammar resin ?

Some links and references:

Using (online catalog for several libraries in Firenze):

  • Studies in the history of painting restoration / edited by Christine Sitwell and Sarah Staniforth. London : Archetype Publications Ltd. : c1998. National Trust, 180 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. Opificio delle Pietre Dure K.b.893 Bar Code: 166050-10.
  • Some stuff on frescos: SUB=Mural painting and decoration, Italian Conservation and restoration Vatican City
  • Partridge, Loren W.: Michelangelo - the Last Judgment : a glorious restoration / New York : H.N. Abrams, 1997. 207 p. : ill. (mostly col.) ; 33 cm. Berenson Library ND623.B9 A69 1997 Barcode 98941-10

-- MarkCutkosky - 25 May 2005

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