Killing one painting at a time

An oil painting by Franz Zoller (1748-1829) was brought to us for examination

As can be seen from the above photograph, this is a characteristic nature painting, the problem with the painting is that several years ago it was “restored” unprofessionally, causing irreversible damage.
The normal restoration process should be as follows: documentation (recording the work’s pre-restoration status), tests, stabilization, mending tears, very cautious cleaning, then if the canvas is already burnt and weak, relining is usually performed (installing on new canvas), repair of physical damage (in painting) and protective coating.

What was performed in the problematic process mentioned above was to stick the painting on new canvas, without prior cleaning and proper preparation, using a heat press or iron at a higher temperature than is permissible. The results were destructive, the dirt was imprinted deep into the painting preventing any possible cleaning and the painting was transformed from a 3D to a flat texture, meaning that all the three-dimensional brush strokes, characteristic of oil paintings, disappeared as if they had never existed!
In fact the painting did not only look bad, without any possibility to restore it and repair the damage, but it also lost its financial value and became unmarketable.
The picture’s owner was most upset. I share this case with you in order to emphasize once more that it is often better not to restore an artwork at all rather than delivering it for restoration to an insufficiently professional restorer.
Michael Karo

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