A variety of services are offered, ranging from condition assessment and conservation framing to full conservation treatment and restoration. Treatments are always tailored to each painting and depending on the condition and needs of the painting, different levels of work or options can be offered and discussed.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to give an estimate for conservation without examining the painting. No charge will be made to examine and draw up an estimate for work, unless there is considerable travel involved. However, there would be a charge for carrying out documentation, i.e. a condition report and photography, if that was desired.
Below is a short summary of services offered.
Documentation and condition assessment
The first step in any conservation treatment is to assess and document the condition of the painting. This process will flag up any possible concerns for the stability of the painting, current or future, and will also take into account the aesthetic appearance. Survey work is also provided.
Survey and In-Situ Work
For collections containing several paintings, survey work is provided to assess and document works on site. Basic conservation work such as framing to conservation standards, surface cleaning and consolidation can also be provided on site.
Many paintings are inadequately framed. Problems include abrasion of the paint layers due to friction at the frame rebate, unsympathetic glazing, or the inadequate protection of the painting at the back. Glazing and back-boarding can offer physical protection and also protect the painting from extreme fluctuations in environmental conditions and UV light.
Surface cleaning involves removing the material deposited on top of the paint or varnish layer. Surface dirt removal can be very dramatic or subtle, depending on the painting. Small tests can be carried out to see whether a painting would benefit from surface cleaning.
Varnish is an initially transparent coating applied to paintings, which saturates and protects the surface of the paint. Over time varnishes discolour or can become blanched (this is when the varnish whitens), obscuring the painting. Varnishes can be removed and reapplied, usually lifting the tonality of the painting, restoring the original contrasts and allowing details of the painting to be properly appreciated.
Consolidation and stabilisation
Raised cracks and flaking paint can quickly result in paint loss if left untreated. Consolidating vulnerable areas of paint with an appropriate adhesive can stabilise the paint layers, preventing or postponing the loss of paint.
The structural stability of a painting’s support, whether it is canvas or board, is of utmost importance even though it is not always seen on the front. Untreated splits in panels, or tears and undulations in canvas paintings, can worsen over time as well being visually disturbing.
Many paintings have small paint losses or areas of damage that can be visually distracting. Levels of restoration can be discussed. Most retouching aims to conceal damage or to minimise the visual disruption of damage. All retouching carried out is reversible and limited to loss or wear of the paint layers.
Many methods of analysis exist which can be used to better understand how a painting was made. Techniques such as x-radiography, infrared photography and pigment analysis can be organised.