Divine company!

painting during varnish removal

I’ve been busy working on the conservation of some of the old masters from the Hatton gallery for their new exhibition. some of the paintings are really old and really dirty. This painting is by de Wit and was painted in the 17 hundreds, it was very dirty and the varnish had turned so yellow that it was hard to imagine what the painting was meant to look like!

Here you see the painting during varnish removal as you can see he is now wearing a nice varnish t shirt and socks! (It takes a long time to remove the varnish so I have to keep myself amused somehow). So far I have been working on this painting for two weeks but it’s so satisfying when you start to see how beautiful the painting is under all the varnish.

Cleaning tests: first I tested to see what would get the black soot of the front then I tested to see what would get the thick yellow varnish off. It was a bit of a shock when I saw what colour the painting was meant to be!

It was probably originally meant as a church decoration to look like carved marble high up on the wall. As the yellow varnish is removed you can see it looking more and more 3D as the lights become lighter and the darks become darker. It’s going to look stunning when it goes on display.

2 Responses to Divine company!

  1. Mrs. J. Falk, Newcastle says:

    What an interesting post! I’d love to see an exhibition focusing on the process of conserving works of art, with some examples of ‘before’ and ‘after’- it would be fascinating to learn more about the process!
    Mrs J Falk

  2. Ana Flynn says:

    Hi Mrs Falk
    Thanks for the comment the conservation team are currently looking into the possibility of putting on a conservation exhibition. There was a small section on conservation in the Sunderland art exhibition and occasionally we also do Conservation on Gallery. Currently I am very busy getting the exhibition for the Hatton Gallery ready before I go on Maternity leave but hopefully we can get something organised when I get back. Watch this space!
    All the best Ana

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