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Behind the Scenes in Conservation: A chemical peel?

by Serena Urry, Chief Conservator


CAMConservation , British portraiture , paintings conservation , Henry Raeburn , British catalog project , CAM British Painting catalog , CAM British Paintings

Not quite. As paintings conservators, we may use chemicals, but we certainly don’t give facials. Instead, our chemical cleaning solutions carefully dissolve the layers of aged varnishes and dirt.   

We are examining Miss Margaret Suttie by British artist Henry Raeburn (1756–1823) for the museum’s British catalog project. Old yellow varnish obscured her rosy complexion, so we decided to clean the portrait before sending it to be photographed.