When brought to the studio, Landscape with Figures attributed to the School of Teniers was in poor condition and in need of structural and aesthetic treatment. The original canvas was beginning to peel away from its old glue-paste lining and damage and wear to the paint layers, caused from harsh cleaning by previous restorers, was also evident and needed addressing. The raking light photo of the painting before treatment shows that the painting had severe undulations that related to the condition of its canvas support. The tacking margins were so degraded that in many places the canvas was no longer attached to the stretcher.
The painting had a large tear in the top left hand section that had gone through both original and lining canvases and had a wax patch covering it on the back. It was decided that the painting required re-lining, as the original canvas no longer had the capacity to support the paint layers. Lining is an interventive technique that in the past was often carried out on paintings as a preventive measure. Thoughts and fashions change though, and lining is really only considered now as a last resort when structurally treating a painting. However, it was certainly necessary in this case, considering the poor condition of the painting.
The painting was de-lined, which means the old lining canvas and lining adhesive was removed. A new, linen lining canvas was prepared and the painting was glue-paste lined and re-stretched.
The varnish present on the painting was blanched and the painting appeared unsaturated as a result. Both the varnish and overpaint was removed with solvents. Brown overpaint had been applied to mask the severely abraded paint layers and the removal of this overpaint allowed us to appreciate certain details of the painting that were previously hidden. A horse and rider were discovered in the bottom right hand corner, and the hawk, which had been visible but completely swamped by the surrounding overpaint, was suddenly part of the narrative again.
Filling, varnishing and retouching
The painting was varnished and retouched using Gamblin© Conservation Colours. The wear and losses in the paint layers were retouched imitatively to a standard thought appropriate for the condition of the painting. Touching out the wear in the foreground helped to solidify the landscape and reintroduced a recession into the distance.