ReNewell, Inc. Fine Art Conservation
Examples of the Restoration Process
Click to learn more about the process for restoring oil paintings or works on paper.

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Strip Lining, a minimally invasive procedure, is used when a piece's tacking edges are weak or missing. It is a satisfactory solution to a variety of structural issues.

The edges of this painting's support (the material on which the piece is painted - in this case, linen) are weak and need to be reinforced.

After the piece is removed from its stretcher (the wooden frame over which the canvas is stretched) and relaxed, new strips of canvas or linen are attached to the tacking edges.

Here is the painting after cleaning and restretching
(but before final varnish).

The Dutch Method is a means of correcting damage caused by support shrinkage. It is an effective method for treating tenting (upward lifting) in either ground layers or paint.


Over time, this piece's support has shrunk, leading to the formation of tenting and cracks in the paint layer.

The piece is removed from its stretcher, and strips of wet strength tissue are attached to the borders of the piece. It is then attached to a expandable stretcher. The use of moisture, adhesive, and time cause the piece to stretch slowly and gently, and for the tented layers to return to their original flattened state.

This is the piece after full cleaning, stretching, and varnishing.

Local consolidation is a minimally invasive procedure which focuses on specific areas of tenting, cupping, or other paint damage.

Lining is an extensive conservation treatment. Should a canvas be too dessiccated (dried out) and/or torn to respond to strip lining, consolidation, and/or tear repair, lining is necessary.

The damage in this piece extends well beyond the paint layer - these tears were made in the canvas itself.

The piece is removed from its stretcher. A new layer of linen is adhered to the back of it to reinforce the fragile canvas.

Areas of missing paint are filled and inpainted.

The Holy Family (after Raphael). Mid 19th c. Steel engraving. Private collection.

This is what a piece may look like before it has undergone treatment. It has been improperly framed by being dry-mounted to an acidic board. Surface grime and various tapes have stained the paper. Old age and mishandling have taken their toll in the form of oxidation (darkening), tears, and holes. Lastly, water damage has left tide lines on large portions of the piece.

First, the piece is subjected to surface cleaning. Grime and other surface pollutants are removed in order to prepare the piece for more intensive cleaning.
The backing is removed from the piece in the process known as unmounting. An often slow and tedious task, unmounting consists of using scalpels to shave the backing from the piece.
The piece is then put through aqueous treatment, a series of baths in a solution consisting of deionized water and appropriate cleaning agents.
The result of aqueous treatment. Now the piece is ready to undergo structural repair.
Here, the paper is being resized - a solution is applied to the paper to provide additional strength.
Tears in the paper are mended with various Japanese tissues and wheat paste, an organic and reversible material.
Holes are dealt with in a slightly different way. In a process known as pulping loss, holes are filled with a mixture of paper pulp and water. As the water evaporates, the pulp dries and is left behind.
The final stage of the process piece is lining. To add strength to the fragile piece, the engraving is secured to a layer of Japanese paper using wheat paste.

Here is the piece after the process of restoration. The treatments are durable and reversible (for the sake of future conservation), but the ultimate longevity of the piece - or any other work of art - depends on proper framing, handling, and climate control.

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