This page is dedicated to all recent goings-on here in our studio and further afield.
Restoration of a Seventeenth Century Portrait
Having arrived with various tears, losses and a dried out varnish, we set about conserving the picture with the utmost care and consideration. Although the damage was quite considerable in parts, it was clear that good quality paint work was still evident in much of the face and drapery. The painting was relined and given a delicate clean to remove old and discoloured varnished. Once this had been completed, the true quality of the picture was exposed for the first time in decades. Amongst the many fine details revealed during cleaning was the brilliantly painted feigned oval composed of a laurel wreath in monochrome paint, a device often employed by the likes of Mary Beale.
After careful varnishing and retouching, we provided a new ebony style frame to compliment the character and period of the picture.
Please follow the link below to access our September Newsletter. Our picture of the month, which is accompanied by a brief summary, is a stunning drawing by Eric Ravilious (1903-1942) entitled Men at Break.
We've recently uploaded a short video showing the exciting process of removing yellowed varnish mixed with decades worth of dirt and grime. Click on the link above to view.
Restoration of oils by Thomas Butterworth
This August we had the pleasure of bringing two maritime paintings by Thomas Butterworth (1768-1842) back to life. Buttersworth began his career as a seaman painter before he was invalided in 1800. Some of his most successful works, apart from his oils, are the large number of watercolours by the artist preserved in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
The two oils on canvas were brought in for treatment from a private collection. Much faded from yellowed and dulled varnish, and considerably over-painted; these two naval scenes showed signs of great promise once small windows of the paint layer had been exposed during cleaning tests. After the complete removal of the varnish layers, areas of damage were stabilised and prepared for careful retouching. As illustrated, one of the pictures was missing a large section of sky and needed complete reconstruction. Ensuring a harmonious reading of the painting, especially considering such a significant loss, is always the primary consideration of any approach to careful and considerate restoration. Replicating the smooth modulations of sky and clouds is a true test of the ability of the conservator. Minor and more simple losses could be found around the stretcher lines, often resulting from a slack canvas being allowed to move far too freely in its frame. Once given a new coat of varnish, the colours including the blues, reds and yellows became saturated and play their part in achieving the original intentions of the artist. The same effect can be observed when dipping a pebble into the ocean, varnish acts as the film to allow the colour to achieve its full depth and brilliance.
Finally, but equally important, is the framing. Copies were made of a surviving frame, which had descended with one of the pictures, to ensure the paintings hung harmoniously together in their intended environment. An unsympathetic frame, which works against the artwork instead of for it, can produce the most jarring effect. It is for this reason that we believe so vehemently in a rounded approach towards fine art; its conservation, restoration and display.
Summer 2017 Newsletter
Please follow the link below for our Summer 2017 Newsletter. Included within is a brief piece focusing on our Picture of the Month A view of Lake Como by artist John 'Warwick' Smith.
Sati Scene c.1770-71 by Tilly Kettle (1735-1786) held in an outset cornered William Kent style frame made in the studio by Julia
Below this you can download a copy of the article that Julia wrote for the Art Framing Today trade magazine (August 2016 edition). Julia takes us on a journey through the golden age of frame-making in Europe, from the Mediaeval period to the 19th century. The frame is an essential part of a painting, and plays an important role that is often overlooked.
Conservation Of The Portrait Busts For The Royal Society of Musicians
While The Royal Society of Musicians is mid-way through a two-year project to refurbish its new offices, Julia restores eight of its busts of composers. Eight composers, Beethoven, Chopin, D'oyly Carte, Gounod, Handel, Haydn, Mellon and Parry, have had their busts conserved by Julia. An average of 50 hours' careful retouching, waxing and polishing has been lavished on each bust.
Conservation of two badly-damaged, oval 17th Century Baroque / ‘Kneller’ frames for the Charterhouse
As part of the long-term conservation programme currently under way at the Charterhouse, Sutton’s Hospital, Charterhouse Square, Julia’s studio has recently completed the conservation of two badly-damaged, oval 17th Century Baroque / ‘Kneller’ frames. Over the centuries the frames had so deteriorated as to threaten their very survival intact, as all four joints, top and bottom, had lost virtually all symmetry and cohesion. The original gilding had long since vanished and been replaced, many decades ago, with a layer of gold paint. Even this colour had almost disappeared, as the surface had become so dry and degraded that scraps of the original layers of material were falling away. The statutes of the Charterhouse, owing to its age as an eminent charitable foundation, do not permit it, regrettably, to spend any part whatsoever of its financial resources, on the conservation of its heritage collection, Julia, in recognition of these constraints, decided therefore to carry out, on a pro-bono basis, the urgent conservation of these frames to encourages others to support on a similar basis the urgent work needed to preserve the collection for the enjoyment of future generations. Shown below is some of the detail of the work involved in the conservation of the frames.