The Unicorn Gallops Again: Restoring a Truly Fantastical Painting

Greg Busse, the proud owner of Galloping Unicorn with Rainbow, tells us that the piece was given to his wife Heather by her parents during early childhood. They acquired the painting from a roadside vendor in Texas. Assumingly created by a Mexican artist selling work across the border, the painting depicts a handsome, white unicorn gently sprinting along an infinity rainbow. The subject matter was what prompted Heather’s parents to purchase the piece. 

“As a child, Heather inherited a love of horses, took riding lessons and developed an affinity for unicorns,” explained Greg. “The painting is a representation of my wife and a reflection of her childhood. It has always been hanging in our house, no matter where we were living. It has been a constant reminder of precious memories from her youth and brings her happiness.”

Sadly, the painting had been damaged during a home improvement project. It was torn and had become warped. Distraught at the thought of losing the family heirloom, Greg turned to The Conservation Center for help. Upon initial assessment, our conservators agreed the piece was going to be a challenging project to work on. However, given its history, whimsical aesthetic, and intensely personal value to Greg’s wife Heather, The Center’s team was determined to find the best solution for salvaging the work.

The synthetic fabric proved difficult to work with. Using heat would melt the surface and humidity would have no effect. Additionally, certain areas of the fabric were brittle and decayed, making any surface work impossible without losing the integrity of the fabric. Nevertheless, the tears were patched on the reverse side and while the deformations remained, they were minimized since the now repaired tears no longer demanded attention when looking at the painting, and the black background reduced the subtleties in the canvas. The pinpoint losses were filled, and inpainting was then done to integrate the damaged areas. 

“The repairs were completed in the middle of January, and I went to pick up the painting as soon as I had the chance. When I saw the wonderful work that had been done I almost cried. It looks fantastic! I can’t thank The Conservation Center enough for giving the painting another chance and doing such great work. Heather was ecstatic to see the unicorn rising again.”