Old Family Portraits – Ask yourself these 3 important questions!
I know my last post was about family portraits but you have GOT TO SEE this one! This family portrait was brought to us by the exhibits coordinator for the National archives and was really in sad shape. Notice the 18″ slash down the left side. Here’s a raking light shot of the distortions/gathers in the canvas.
The painting canvas was so brittle that the tacking edge nails had pulled through the fabric so the edges were loose and the painting was barely hanging onto the stretcher bars. The surface of the painting was LOADED with dirt, grime and discolored varnish… nicotine? How did this painting get into such precarious condition? Except it was adopted by a preservationist soul, this portrait and piece of history was destined for the trash.
Professional art conservation and painting restoration to the rescue. The rip repair of this painting’s ripped edges were rejoined under the microscope and, in fact, here’s a video to show how we do it:
The cleaning was actually, surprisingly not so difficult. Once the varnish was dissolved, the rest of the dirty layers washed away with it’s removal. What a difference!!!!
So again, how did this painting get into such precarious condition? As you might imagine, all of this damage is caused by handling and the way it was treated. In other words, all of this damage was avoidable… or preventable! What circumstances do you paintings find themselves? Are fragile old paintings displayed in high traffic areas? Are paintings not on the walls simple leaning against themselves in the closet, garage or basement? Immediate action to remedy the situation may save you many $1,000′s of dollars!
Art conservation questions? Call Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438
Art appraisal questions? Call Richard Holgate 805 895 5121
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This painting has minimal touch up done (inpainting) and many imperfections, that are original to the painting or are a result of the artist’s technique, remained. The goal was to have the portrait look great… but have it be as original as possible.
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