What can we (the clients) expect from a conservative or restorative process?
All the beauty and fun in our work as restorers and conservators of works of art, derives from the fact that there are no two identical compositions, each work has its own story, each product has its own special needs, so that the expected results of the restorative process can only be estimated approximately and the final result is determined during the conservation work.
The purpose of the conservation process is to prevent damage that might be caused to an artwork that is not protected in the proper manner, or has not undergone conservative processes especially suited to the media in which the work was performed and it's substrate on which the media is applied.
Usually a conservative process does not alter the character and look of the work, either for the better or for worse. In other words, it does not repair damage and certainly does not harm the work’s appearance.
.Exceptional is a process in which a protective coating (varnish) is applied to an oil painting.
Usually (but not always), cleaning the old coating from an artwork, that has already yellowed, been affected by mold, absorbed infective or toxic materials or cleaning dirt from an unvarnished painting and then performing the varnish itself, may cause the painting to look lighter and the colors may seem more vivid, in fact reviving the painting so that it becomes closer to its appearance when the artist completed it.
The purpose that should guide us in the restorative process (repairing damage) is to restore the state of the art work as close as possible to its state when completed by the artist; not to repair any visual mistakes that the artist might have performed, rather to do the essential minimum. At the end of this process there should be no visual interference from a reasonable observation distance of one and a half meters, but a professional examination should be able to distinguish the original from the repair.
A restorative process usually removes dirt and foreign substances before the stage of in-painting, and if an unvarnished painting is involved, a protective coating is needed as noted above; the result, in most cases, is again that the painting will become lighter and the colors will be more vivid.
The Cleaning Process
As I mentioned, an ethical restoration process will bring the artwork as close as possible to its original state. Nevertheless there are situations where restoration is restricted. For example, in works on paper or embroidery, when there are stains which cannot be removed without damaging the work itself or for example in oil paintings where aggressive, deep cleansing may cause damage to the painting’s original pigments. In these cases restoration will be restricted to cleaning at a level that does not cause direct or indirect damage to the creative product. In other words it is preferable to clean too little rather than too much.
As a rule, until the restorative process begins in practice and until the necessary tests are conducted on each separate pigment and for each of the substances from which the composition is composed, it is impossible to know precisely how the finished product will look once it is cleaned and coated with a protective layer.
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Restoration /conservation / preservation
Restorer / conservator / preserver
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