Friday, August 4, 2017

Conquering the Conquistador

Early this summer we were met with the exciting challenge of restoring an oil on canvas painting and antique frame, one of our most involved restorations  yet.

Upon arrival, the image was indistinguishable. There were pieces of canvas missing, and the frame was also in bad shape partly due to water damage and paint loss. This project was quite the undertaking, and one of the worst "before" states of condition we had seen come through the doors. We definitely knew from day one that we had our work cut out for us.

After removing the painting from the frame and then its stretcher bars, we were extremely fortunate to find the larger missing pieces between the canvas and support.

Because the canvas was so delicate due to age, as well as the extreme damage to the surface, immediate stabilization was important. This was achieved by removing the painting from the original support so that the fragile pieces could be laid back down in their correct positioning. Because of its fragility, re-lining the entire canvas was our next step because of the rough condition that it was in.

The painting after the mounting and filling process
Re-lining the painting was accomplished using a dry-mount glue in a heated press. Because there were so many oddly shaped and small pieces, many of those had to be individually pressed down with a tack iron to ensure the complete mounting process would be successful. This process is completely archival and reversible, which is important in every step of the restoration process.

We were able to re-stretch the canvas to its original support after they were thoroughly cleaned and re-built. Only after a canvas is completely stabilized is it ready to be filled in where the original canvas is missing. The tedious process of matching color and in-painting was next. After the finishing touches of color and varnish were performed, the Conquistador was ready for its frame again.

The frame was cleaned, and the corners were re-glued to ensure structural stabilization. Loose pieces were glued down, and missing pieces were re-created and given a patina to match. All in all, this process was long, but worth every tedious step to bring it back to its original stature.