The Restoration of a Large Portrait
At 1.5m x 1m, the artwork is an imposing portrait of a London merchant sitting on a sheltered outcrop. The backdrop behind is of a bay with sailing ships, their masts raised, edging towards the horizon. The most evident damage is the tear and two white stripes running vertically down the painting, which look like water trails. The painting is also flecked with a white substance, possibly paint.
It was also apparent that the painting was not properly attached to the stretcher bars, and this had caused creasing. Furthermore, the painting was not positioned correctly in the frame as it was gapping between the top edge of the painting and the frame.
After removing the painting from the frame, it was apparent that there was not enough of the canvas to the confidently re-tension in order to remove the creasing. This process involves taking the painting off the stretcher bars and re-positioning it correctly. It was also noticed that the canvas was glued as well as nailed to the stretcher bars. To bring back the structural stability it was recommended that it was relined to successfully re-attach the painting to the stretcher bars.
The frame was cleaned to remove the accumulation of dirt and dust and any decorative losses were remoulded to suit the style and age of the frame. Then the mitre joints were stabilised to prevent movement of the painting when reinstalled into the frame. When the canvas was put back onto the stretcher bars, this also removed the creasing.
The first part of the treatment was to repair the tear. This was carried out using a threat by thread method, where the individual fibres of the tear are brought back together and re-aligned. The tear is then bonded using a heat treatment, culminating in a seamless repair.
The varnish was removed, small ‘windows’ on the painting were used to try to find the most effective solvent. An intensive clean removed years of dirt and contaminants.
The difference achieved after a full clean and varnish removal was fantastic, and it revived parts of the painting such as the address on the letter and the detailing on the ships. The cleaning also removed the two marks running down the painting and the white flecked substance.
Any areas where there had been paint loss, a filler was used to the areas of exposed canvas, then careful pigment matching and retouching where paint was missing. The final step of the restoration was to re-varnish, which provides a protective and lasting finish for the painting.
If you have any questions about restoring a painting, please give us a call in The Gallery on 01256 701082, or email email@example.com.