A 19th century oil painting of sheep by Rosa Bonheur (French, 1822-1899) was heading for obscurity when rescued by a pair of collectors. Careful restoration saved it from further damage. The video above describes the processes used to revive it.
From the owners:
"Amazing and exciting. Truly brought back from the dead...we love it and it hangs in a place of distinction where we’re sure to see it every day. We’re now on the hunt for you next project!" -Scott & Rae, Rhode Island Antiques Mall
Remove the effects of smoke damage,
water damage, mold and darkened varnish.
Oil paint oxidizes when it dries, and becomes dull over time.
This is especially evident in paintings which have never been varnished. Cleaning and nourishing the paint surface, followed by varnishing, can restore the colors to reflect the artist's original vision.
Fix holes and scratches in paintings
Canvas repair and reweaving;
gouges in panels repaired and repainted.
Replace lost and damaged paint
Professional color matching, inpainting and retouching.
Fragile canvasses can be mounted on a variety of new surfaces including polyester canvas, Mylar and hardboards. Contemporary museum-quality archival adhesives and methods are used. Relining stabilizes the painting and relaxes the paint film. It also retards the progression of stress cracks and other damage caused by uneven tension, flexing and mishandling.
Insurance claim estimates
We are glad to provide repair estimates for insurance claims.
This lovely woman (Recently recognized as Virginia Woolf) was painted by Boston artist Mary Catherine Callan in the early 1900's. Somewhere between then and now, the portrait collected a thick layer of grime and a few punctures. The ear was almost totally lost.
Clean Oil Paintings is a major underwriter of Downton Abbey on RIPBS.
Conservator Bruce Wood, the Cardi Brothers (Cardi's Furniture) and an illustrious cast of RIPBS Celebrities joined together to create their own version of the popular series. See the video here.
This 18th century portrait of Maximilian III, from the workshop of George Desmarées, had lost most of its paint! The face and details were carefully reconstructed, based on the remaining outlines and bits of pigment.
From the owners: "We are THRILLED with the work you've done on our painting! We literally gasped when we saw "our man". I had stared at that painting for countless hours and never realized his hair was long and cascading down his shoulder! We are very excited ... Thank you so much..."
Restored Early 19th Century portrait with collector Lawrence Branagan.
A thank-you note from a collector of Arthur Diehl's paintings:
September 30, 2013
Dear Mr. Wood,
I wanted to thank
you for the beautiful work
restoring our Arthur Diehl
Paintings. Eventually, I will bring
the previously cleaned paintings
in for appraisal. (Two that
were cleaned & repaired at
RISD.) Your work was far
Thank you again...
This small (10 inches high) portrait of a lovely little girl was painted in Maine in the late 1890's. It had a heavy layer of grime and darkened varnish, but the worst damage was caused by an old attempt at cleaning which partially removed the paint on her face and the background above. Careful cleaning revealed the basic outlines of the hair, eyes and nose, which were used as a guide in re-creating the face.
A detail of an Edward Potthast painting shows how cleaning and varnishing can restore colors and contrast.
A mid-1800's winter scene by William Morris Hunt had been hanging over a fireplace mantel for a century. Here it is with the soot partially removed.
Detail from a painting of a cavalry charge, showing a horse returning to its original color.
From Patti in Oregon:
I just returned home and found the painting waiting for me. We just unpacked it and all
is well. It arrived looking fabulous!
Now I just have to find the right place
to hang it???
Thank you so much for working a miracle
of the old, tattered piece I sent you.
Now I really have a work of art!
I will send a photo once it is hung...
The antique oil painting above had a heavy layer of smoke and discolored varnish. The smoke is visible on the back of the canvas (shown on the far right, removed from its stretcher bars.) There was also pronounced cracking and cupping of the paint.
The painting was relined onto a sealed piece of new linen, flattened and stabilized before cleaning.
The middle photo shows the painting during the cleaning process. Note the color of the sky and cobblestone street on the left side of the painting.
The far right photo shows the results after cleaning and varnishing with a non-yellowing, ultraviolet protecting archival varnish.
This early 20th Century oil painting on paper-board suffered from neglect and a bad fall. The fragile corners were mashed and broken, and it had several gouges in the surface. The pieces were re-assembled and mounted onto a new board for stability. Then the painting was cleaned, cracks repaired, and careful retouching finished the job.
Humidity and shrinking had caused this c.1900 naive Hudson River School painting on canvas to rip itself apart. It was lined onto a layer of polyester canvas and then onto a rigid board. After cleaning, repairing the tears and in-painting the paint losses, a final coat of non-yellowing varnish brought out all of the beautiful details.
A 17th Century French altar panel needed special attention to repair some lifting paint
and clean away several layers of old dirt and varnish.
This view of our studio shows paintings of the Presidents of Dean College in various stages of cleaning and repair.
The photo on the right is a detail of the 1864 portrait of Dean College's Founder Oliver Dean during cleaning and varnish removal.
The above portrait shows Rudolph Valentino in the costume of
his last film role. Valentino is believed to have sat for this portrait,
and it belonged to one of his co-stars for many years.
Unfortunately, a subsequent owner wasn't a Valentino fan,
and stored this bit of Hollywood history in a damp basement.
The paint was lifting all-over and resembled a mess of potato chips.
Careful re-gluing, patching and retouching were needed to restore the
leading-man's heartthrob appearance.
This antique portrait of a young woman arrived at the studio
with a large rip and heavily cracking paint.
Consolidating the paint, relining the canvas, stripping off the
old varnish and filling the damaged areas returned her beauty.
The original round stretcher on the painting above had deteriorated, warped and shrunk, causing the paint to buckle and crack.
The paint was relaxed and the canvas was relined onto a hardboard for stability. Cleaning and revarnishing restored the lost colors and details.
This oil portrait had been wrapped in newspaper and stored in a hot attic for decades.
The heat caused the paint to melt in spots and bond with the newspaper. Also, the painting had never been varnished, and severe oxidation caused discoloration in the face and an overall haze on the surface of the painting, obscuring many details. There was also a small (one inch) hole in the shirt and tie.
After cleaning, restoring and conserving the painting,
the colors have returned to what the artist intended.
Love's Melancholy, (above)
collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.
The painting on the left is possibly a
study for this highly-finished piece.
The circa 1865 oil painting above had multiple tears and scrapes, along with a thick layer of grime.
During restoration, it was discovered that the painting may be a study for Love's Melancholy,
an 1866 oil painting by Constant Mayer (1829-1911) which is in the collection of The Art Institute of Chicago.
The loose and cracked paint was consolidated, and a vapor treatment helped relax the painting.
It was lined onto a new piece of polyester canvas, cleaned, holes repaired, and in-painted.
A new coat of non-yellowing varnish brought out all the details.
Rips were repaired, and years of dirt and discolored varnish were removed from this circa 1900 painting of Venice.
Years of accumulated soot and grime were removed from this antique Peruvian Cuzco School painting of the Archangel Uriel.
This early Twentieth Century oil portrait of Belle Dole, wife of James Drummond Dole (founder of the Hawaiian Pineapple Company in 1901)
had suffered from humidity and a fall. There was a puncture at the tip of her nose, several severe cracks, discolored varnish,
and off-color paint from an old restoration.
When uncovering the back of the painting, we discovered that the artist painted Mrs. Dole on top of a painting of a child!
The outlines of the original image can be seen in the above photo of the back of the canvas.
The portrait received a vapor treatment to relax the cracks, and was lined onto archival polyester canvas to reinforce it.
The old varnish was removed, the puncture was repaired, and the face was in-painted and retouched.
After a coat of non-yellowing varnish, Belle looks like she's returned from a spa.
This 1921 oil painting on wooden panel had been in-expertly painted over (white paint covers the chest)
and it was neglected for years. The original painting was never varnished, and the over-painting had
bonded with the original paint. Even so, it was mostly removed and then retouched.
Revealing an Impressionist Masterpiece:
The photos below show the progress of cleaning a small (14"x14") oil painting of a mill by Macowin Tuttle (1861-1935).
It is a masterpiece of plein air (outdoor, on location) painting
which combines impasto palette knife application with richly textured
energetic brush work. The painting appears to date from around 1900.
Cleaning revealed the original colors and details which were obscured
by discolored varnish and layers of household smoke and grease.
It also revealed some old repairs, where the retoucher matched the color of the dirt!
These can be seen as dark green blotches in the tree branches, center left.
The old retouching was completely removed and lightly inpainted with appropriate coloration and impasto.
This early 19th century portrait benefited from lining, cleaning and a bit of restoration of the missing paint.
Cleaning revealed many hidden details in this mid 19th century Anglo/Continental landscape.