Art painted by time
The term easel painting includes all paintworks on textile or wooden supports.
It is inevitable that time leaves its traces. On the one hand, light, climate conditions and pollution lead to material aging. On the other hand transport and the mere use can cause damages. Both usually affect the so-called 'readability' of an artwork and in worst cases also its stability.
I offer the conservation and restoration of historical, modern and contemporary paintings. As a conservator and restorer, it is my objective to both secure the works in their existence and to render the artistic intention perceptible. At first, the conservatory treatments aim to consolidate the original substance to avoid further loss of material as well as to remove harming pollution and microbial contamination. The subsequent restoration targets to regain a clearly legible and balanced appearance, which nevertheless seeks to preserve the aged character of the painting – its "patina".
If one of the following assertions apply to your painting, it likely suffers from characteristic condition changes or damages that make it worth consulting a restorer:
- The painting lacks colour intensity and seems dark or yellowish-brownish.
- Pieces of paintlayer are already missing or you detect loosly attached paintlayer at risk to get lost.
- Deformations such as dents or tears in a canvas or cracks in the wooden panel endanger the painting.
- Microbial contamination such as mould or insect attack can be observed.
The main steps of conservation & restoration treatments
"To conserve" means to preserve something that is still existing. "To restore" on the other hand, means to bring back something that has been lost. While conservation treatments are essential for the substantial preservation of an artwork, restoration measures have an aesthetic nature. The omission of restoration measures is therefore not acutely endangering the object, but it mostly prevents an undisturbed perception of the artwort. Thats why ususally restoration treatments are desirable.
Essential conservation treatments
Conservation and restoration works are always accompanied by a text and photographic documentation. This documentation records facts about the history of the object and its material. Furthermore it provides information about the conservation and restoration treatments carried out. Pre-, intermediate and final state photographs allow to understand these particular operations. The documentation is also important for possible future restorations. It usually also contains recommendations for the preservation of the artwork.
The supports of paintings are usually made of organic materials which due to their hygroscopic characteristics react to fluctuations in humidity by increasing or decreasing in volume. The often rather rigid paint layer cannot necessarily follow these movements. As a consequence we can usually observe the formation of fine cracks - a craquelure. In worse cases these counteracting dynamics over time cause delaminations, lift offs or even total losses of paint layer particles.
Any conservation and restoration measures should therefore be preceded by recognising and consolidating delaminations or loose paint layer.
Surface cleaning means the targeted removal of dust and, if present, microbial contamination from the front and backside of a painting. It serves either to improve the appearance of a painting and above all to preserve the object, since pollution promotes both the ageing of the material as well as microbial growth.
The condition of the painting's support (e.g. a canvas or a wooden panel) essentially influences the overall appearance of a painting. Dents and tears in the canvas or fractures in the wood and open joints. All these phenomena not only disturb the appearance of the object, but also endanger its stability considerably.
For this reason the treatment of the reverse side is of great importance. For canvas paintings it ranges from the obligatory dust removal to the levelling of deformations in the fabric, the closing of tears or holes in the canvas and in extreme cases its lining. In the case of panel paintings the stabilisation of cracks and the fixing of opened joints are adequate treatments for structurally destabilized panels.
All this is necessary to regain stability and thus to protect the paint layer.
Possible restoration treatments
A yellowed varnish falsifies the original colour intensity of a painting. The impression of depth as well as the variability of colour nuances are usually greatly reduced.
But supposed varnish layers can also turn out to be a patina or final glaze as intended by the artist. This to distinguish is not easy and should be left to specialists. After a thorough examination a restorer can decide whether a varnish is existing and could be removed.
Just as disturbing as a strongly yellowed varnish can be overpaints, which cover parts of the original paint layer.
The feasibility of a varnish and overpaint removal is always verified by testing different agents and procedures. Only if an appropriate procedure without damaging the paint layer is determined, the removal can be carried out.
The restoration of paintings should always respect their aged conditions. A painting after restoration should therefore not just look like new. Nevertheless, damages in the paint layer, which either endanger the substance or affect the readability and perception of the painting, should be treated by filling and retouching lacunas.
Applying putty, the existing lacunas can be brought back to the same level as the surrounding painting layer. Fillings are therefore a prerequisite for any successful colour integration of damages in the paint layer.
As restorers, we can with few means help your painting to its authentic brilliance and advise you to what extent an intervention is appropriate.