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William Charles Thomas Dobson was a 19th century Royal Academician who specialised in religious paintings. Christ Raiseth from Death the Widow’s Son of Nain was gifted to Dobson’s local church by his great-great grand-daughter and was greatly in need of conservation treatment.

The painting had a very uneven, discoloured varnish which was blanched in many areas (this is when the varnish appears white and opaque). There were also severe corner draws which are undulations in the canvas. The conservation treatment included removing the degraded varnish and re-stretching the painting over its original loose-lining.

Detail of Christ before (left) and after (right) treatment

The removal of the varnish completely changed the tonality of the painting and allowed previously hidden details to be seen and appreciated. A new synthetic varnish saturated the original, bright colours. The painting had a lot of drying cracks that revealed a different coloured underlayer of paint, which was visually very distracting. Some retouching was applied to cover these cracks and bring together the composition.


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