As the skies clear up and bright summer days begin, we felt it was only fitting to feature a landscape that recently underwent a similar experience. When the painting first came to The Center, our conservators quickly noted that the varnish layer had discolored, and the piece would likely brighten significantly if the varnish was removed.
The painting was executed on a canvas of coarse weave and medium weight, and was slightly slack on its support. The auxiliary support was a stretcher, which had left creases at all sides of the canvas. The paint layer, which was moderately applied oil in the impasto technique, exhibited mechanical cracks. These cracks were beginning to flake, and some losses had already occurred selectively. There was a scratch and dent located just below the center of the painting, and the piece was coated in a layer of natural varnish that had discolored over time. The piece also exhibited a light layer of surface grime.
After the painting was removed from its frame and photographed, our conservators began by consolidating the cracking and flaking paint locally using conservation adhesives. Next, we adjusted the auxiliary support to provide adequate tension for the canvas. The front and back of the painting were then surface cleaned to remove grime. The varnish layer was removed to the extent safely possible, and losses were filled and textured using a conservation-grade fill material.
Next, a coat of varnish was applied to saturate the paint layer. Inpainting was then carried out in areas of loss and abrasion using reversible conservation paints. Lastly, a final coat of varnish was applied to integrate the surface gloss.
Meanwhile, our Framing Department was hard at work treating the frame. The frame was composed of wood, compo, gesso, metal leaf, and red bole. There were minimal abrasions, scratches, and dents throughout. There was a compo loss at the lower left corner, and the finish was intentionally distressed. The finish was original to the frame, and it exhibited a light layer of particulate film.
Our Framing Conservator began his portion of the project by surface cleaning the frame to remove the layer of particulate film. Scratches and abrasions were then inpainted to emulate the surrounding surface, and losses in cast decoration were recast using the appropriate conservation grade materials. The decoration was gilded to emulate the surrounding area, and a protective layer of microcrystalline wax was applied to the surface of the frame.
When we returned the piece to our client, he was overjoyed with the results.
"I was thrilled when the restored painting was returned. The colors are much brighter, the subtlety and brushwork is apparent... I am very pleased with the outcome as the landscape has great memories and sentimental value."