Conservation focuses on repairing damage and restoring art, but prevention of damage is also important.


This portrait has multiple damages including warping, tears, and darkened varnish.


Paintings may require conservation treatment due to

a variety of damages.  Structural problems such as

warping or tears in the canvas if left untreated can

further damage the painting.  Water damage, insect

damage among other things can lead to paint loss.

Aged and discolored varnish, dirt, and smoke residue

can darken the original colors of a painting and obscure

the artist’s intention. All of these damages can be

remediated to prevent further deterioration.



Painting of Jester with Lute



A during treatment photograph of the partial cleaning

of this painting illustrates how greatly dirt and

discolored varnish can obscure original paint colors.






Structural problems such as warping and tears in the canvas can cause further damage if left untreated.

19th Century portraits with damage from warping (left) and a large tear (right)


Hudson River School landscape painting

Often, undoing poor restoration is the first step in

the process.  This painting was previously restored,

but the repair didn’t hold and the edges of the torn

area are lifting.  The inpainting does not match well

enough for the tear to be invisible.  The goal of

good conservation is to stabilize the damage and to

return the painting as closely as possible to it’s

original state



Restoration paints are pigments suspended in a very thin medium.  Where paint loss has occurred

the losses must first be filled and textured, then inpainted to match the surrounding area.

Before and after photos of textured fill and inpainting.


Even if the damage seems irreparable, there are always options to restore a painting to its original beauty.