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Behind the Scenes in Conservation: A Wet Dog!

by Conservation


behind the scenes , conservation , CAM


This eighteenth century self-portrait with canine is undergoing conservation.  Most of the work has been structural in nature, reinforcing the canvas edges, adding a support fabric and replacing the inadequate strainer that the canvas had been stretched around.  So most of our paintings conservator’s efforts are only visible on the back.  But the painting has also been cleaned, meaning its varnish and old retouching were removed with solvents.  Before new retouching, or inpainting, is applied to the small damages you see here in the center and left background, a layer of varnish is brushed on to isolate the retouching from original paint.  Here the isolating varnish has just been applied, man and beast are therefore wet, and two blue exhaust trunks are positioned to capture the solvent vapors from both the front and back of the canvas.  The trunks will remain on for a number of hours as the solvent evaporates and the wet varnish dries.  Look for the conserved painting to be installed in Gallery 207 in the next few weeks.

Image Credit: Martin Quadal (b. 1736, d. 1808), Self-Portrait, 1788, oil on canvas, 40 3/4 x 33 ¼ in (103.5 x 84.5 cm), Cincinnati Art Museum, Bequest of Walter I. Farmer, 1997.118.