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  • Writer's picturejohn gutsell

Restoring an 18th Century oil painting.

An interesting restoration project purchased on ebay for less than £100. I could tell that underneath the many years of soot and varnish damage that there was an interesting and probably unrestored oil painting lurking beneath with a good quality frame to boot.

Restoring oil paintings is not for the impatient, tight fisted or nervous. Firstly the cleaning products seem ridiculously expensive for a small quantity. Secondly you have to gently roll a cotton bud impregnated with a cleaner of varying strengths over the surface often for several hours. Thirdly one minute you can be thinking everything is slowly but surely going in the right direction then all of a sudden you catch a patch of restored paint that comes off really quickly and you end up with half an oil painting with a truck load work to repair.

That’s all the negatives, on the plus side, you start to discover things, for example in this one, It is of a young man, what was not evident was that he was proudly displaying a transparent mouse trap, it seems he has designed this trap to enable the user to see when the trap has been triggered, the mechanism can be seen on the top, so that you are not faced with a crushed mouse and you can release it unharmed somewhere else in a humane way.

During the cleaning process an area of background paint did come away, this was an area of overpainting done at some stage after the painting was completed, looking at what was beneath it was to disguise an area of damage.

After restoring this area, matching in with the background a coat of special painting restoration varnish was applied.

The difference in the end from what it started out as and how it finished up is quite striking I hope you agree.

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