Picture Restoration Service

by Apr 2, 2020Restoration

If you look at our website you will see many examples of paintings which we have repaired and restored to their former glory. This is a process which we have developed over the last hundred years after Mr Gadsby senior accepted his first commission to clean a painting in the St Nicholas church during 1898.

Why pictures need restoring

The question is, why would you have a painting cleaned and restored?

Discolouration

If you look at some of the many examples of paintings which we have restored on our website you will see that most of them come in with a brown film over the surface which darkens all of the colours and hides much of the detail. This darkening can be discolouring of the paint but the majority of it is caused by the original copal varnish discolouring over time.

Varnish

Some of the paintings which we have restored have been be well over a hundred years old and still have the original varnish covering the picture. The problems may be compounded by the use of poor quality paint but this cannot be established until cleaning has commenced, or the painting may be dark because that is the presentation the artist was looking for!!

Materials used

We have to consider the surface which the painting has been painted onto. Stretched canvas is the most popular but this can present problems as canvas can weaken in time and loose its strength and rigidity. The good thing about oil paint is that it is a strong medium once dry so the canvas may have become weak but the paint will hold the whole picture together.

Many paintings were also painted onto wooden panels which is a solid ground for the painting to sit on but warping can present difficulties, as can the chemicals contained within the wood.

The restoration process

Repairing the ‘canvas’

The first part of the restoration process is to establish that the canvas is rigid and does not have any pin prick holes or any dents in the surface. Small holes can be resolved with a small patch on the back and dents can usually be straightened by stretching the canvas tighter.

Varnish removal

Removal of the varnish will usually have to be in several stages depending how easily it can be removed. Some varnish will be easy to clean off but others will be much more stubborn, or we sometimes find that a modern synthetic varnish has been applied over what was originally there!!

Once the varnish has been removed we are able to see the condition of the painting. It may be that no further work is necessary or it could be that a further light clean is required to see the depth of colour. Either way we will always try not to make the finished picture look too “new” or bright.

Re-touching the colour and revarnishing

Before re varnishing the restorer will check to see if any re touching of colour is required, and that there is a uniform finish across the surface of the picture. You can find that new varnish does not dry with an even consistency and can look matted in certain areas. This can simply be resolved by applying a second very thin coat.

One of the most difficult restoration jobs which we have accepted for many years can be seen on this website. It is a large painting which had several tears through the canvas. We had to remove the canvas off its wooden frame and “back line” or attach the original canvas to a new piece so that we could re paint over the huge tears and return the painting to its former glory. Luckily the canvas was in excellent condition so the tears did not damage the paint along the edges and re painting was fairly straight forward.

Written by: Peter Gadsby, Director of W. Frank Gadsby Limited

Related Articles

Picture frame regilded and oil painting cleaned

Picture frame regilded and oil painting cleaned

Regilding a picture frame Sometimes the frame of a picture carries as much sentimental value as the oil painting it holds. So, while we are sometimes asked to re-frame cleaned and restored paintings, we are also happy to repair and regild picture...

read more
Restoring an Oil Painting

Restoring an Oil Painting

Restoring an oil painting - a multi skilled jobRestoring an oil painting requires a range of skills and techniques. The first task is to identify exactly what needs to be done in order to restore the picture to its former glory. In this post we are...

read more
Oil painting stretching and restoration

Oil painting stretching and restoration

Every restoration job is different This oil painting came in looking a little worse for wear. It wasn't framed and, on this occassion, we were not asked to re-frame it. So, we re-stretched the canvas as much as it was safe to do so. We also...

read more
Repairing a damaged painting

Repairing a damaged painting

Sometimes when clients bring in damaged paintings we learn how the damage occurred, other times we are left to guess. This one left us guessing. There were multiple spots on the canvas where the paint had been chipped off each need re-painting...

read more
Lions Ears Repair!

Lions Ears Repair!

Two clients brought in lion ornaments (one lion, one lioness) for repair. Each ornament had one broken ear which was successfully repaired as shown in the images below.

read more
Oil paintings cleaned

Oil paintings cleaned

The images above show the before and after of an oil painting recently cleaned at Gadsbys. The patches on the side of the first image show just a little of the dirt which was removed in the very early stages of the cleaning process. In these two...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This