Recent Restoration Projects

One of the best parts of my job is that I have the opportunity to work on such a wide variety of projects.  From Nineteenth century portraits to contemporary prints, each day brings something new and different.  I wanted to share a few details of some recent projects with you.

Art restoration is typically a very labor-intensive process and there aren’t many steps that are as instantly gratifying as removing a layer of discolored varnish.  Here is a detail of a portrait that was recently in for restoration.

Varnish

An in-process detail of removing a discolored varnish

As most varnish ages, it discolors and accumulates layers of dust and grime from the environment.  Without intervention, the varnish will eventually block out most of the image, as was the case in this painting.

TaverBefore

Detail of the upper corner, before treatment

This painting had two separate layers of varnish, one much older than the other.  Very little could be seen, aside from the main figure and a few hints of a surrounding.  This detail shows just how much detail a discolored varnish can obscure.

TaverAfter

After treatment

Most steps in the restoration process require a lot of patience and attention to detail.  I recently completed the restoration of a painting that had been previously repaired.  There were several structural issues with the canvas and the restorer had trimmed off the tacking margins and glued the painting onto a sheet of thick cardboard.  Once I had separated the cardboard from the canvas, I spent a considerable amount of time removing the remaining glue and bits of board.   Once all of the glue had been removed, a new fabric support was prepared for the canvas so that it could be attached onto new stretcher bars (as it would have originally been).

Canvas

Removing the leftover glue from a previous restoration

Canvas2

Making progress!

One of the final steps in restoring a painting (and my favorite!) is inpainting.  Once the lost areas of paint have been stabilized and prepared, a specialized paint is used to match the missing areas to the surroundings.  It is crucial that the materials used will not damage the artwork and are completely reversible.

BeforeInpainting

Before inpainting- the bright white areas are losses that have been prepared for inpainting

While the inpainted areas may seem to have disappeared, under certain lighting the inpainting becomes clearly visible.

AfterInpainting

After inpainting

I hope you have enjoyed seeing some of these behind the scenes details!