This page is dedicated to all recent goings-on here in our studio and further afield.

Woman in Red Deck Chair - Hans Dahl

🖌The Painting🖌
When we acquired it, the painting had been brutally stuck to a piece of board giving it a flattened, hard look.

We spent much time removing the board from behind, laboriously scraping it back until we reached the original canvas. We then lined the picture using BEVA and a light piece of linen, and the painting recovered all its depth, lustre, and elasticity, utterly transforming it.

Finally, we cleaned the work and varnished it, and the before and after more than rewarded us for the time it had taken.

♦️The Frame♦️
We thought long and hard about the frame as this work needed something unusual that would enhance the image and give the work depth. On a visit to the Jeu de Paume in Paris, I saw this Edouard Manet painting Sur La Plage (scroll right) and was inspired by the originality of the frame: I thought we should make something similar, to set our piece apart when hung in a collection.

So this is it and we are absolutely thrilled with the result. It is our homage to Manet, who was a discerning, talented master, and cared as much about the frames he used on his paintings as we do!

Petrus van Schendel (1806-1870) The Vegetable Seller, Rotterdam

Following research, we discovered that this mahogany panel by Petrus van Schendel was made around 1868.

The Painting

The deeply engrained and stained varnish throughout was removed with the utmost care as the darker pigments are so volatile. It was then clear to see how serious the craquelure was throughout this exquisitely detailed painting. We then varnished the painting to protect the artist's work, and to bring the pigments up to their full density of colour.

Using a microscope we touched in the worst of the cracked pigment, keeping this very detailed work to a minimum. Finally, we added two further layers of the finest resin varnish, and fitted the painting back into it's original frame.

The Frame

The original frame was transformed: we sanded it down, added an inner slip, applied four coats of gesso, three of terracotta bole, one of black bole. We then gilded the inner slip and the band of beading within the frame using 22 carat gold leaf (the very best quality), then lacquered that in place to protect it. We added a very soft terracotta wash on the gold leaf to distress it, placed an antique pine wax throughout the frame, and teak wax on the black areas, and polished the it to a high sheen.

On both the painting and frame we worked in excess of the time allocated to achieve the highest possible standard, fitting for such a breathtakingly beautiful painting.

Carved cabinet for 200 year old Napoleonic War Ship

This magnificent, exceptionally large, early 19th century Napoleonic French Prisoner-of war bone model for a first-rate ship of the line, with a hundred guns, needed a cabinet that matched the quality of the model’s craftsmanship.
With very little time we set to work making the case from scratch which was in itself a challenge giving its need to be at least a metre and a half in length. We decided that the base should simulate the sea. To achieve this we combined a carved ripple moulding, and inlaid beading and twisted rope. Many layers of gesso were applied prior to washing the base with a soft pale blue wash, whilst a terracotta wash was applied to the uprights. A simple cassetta moulding was used to surround the lower platform and fluted vertical mouldings to hold the UV glass in place. These were trimmed with a twisted rope motif. Rather than place UV glass on all four sides of the cabinet, it seemed unusual to reflect the model by placing a back of Italian antique flecked mirror glass, thus adding further sparkle to its existing splendour. The case was finished with a black bole on a terracotta base, and remains accessible through a side door with two elegant brass handles, so the vessel can be placed one way, or other, as our client desires. This commission was truly a labour of love and a fitting tribute to the extraordinary craftsmanship of those prisoners of war over two hundred years ago.

Angus Dei door

We have just finished making a tabernacle to surround the beautiful 17th century Angus Dei door which we have had in our possession for decades.

We wanted to make something incredibly sensitive and deferential so that the beauty of this exquisite carved and gilded door shone through whilst at last being returned to use. Much of the carving of the Lamb of God had broken away over the centuries and this we replicated, carving the missing sections before adding gesso, and regilding it throughout on a terracotta bole base.

We then constructed the ‘cabinet’, replicating the contour of the tabernacle door, adding the same style of beading and we felt a soft terracotta / pink wash would be the most appropriate colouring to enable the original carving to shine once more in all its glory!

17th century Angus Dei door

We have just finished making a tabernacle to surround the beautiful 17th century Angus Dei door which we have had in our possession for decades.

We wanted to make something incredibly sensitive and deferential so that the beauty of this exquisite carved and gilded door shone through whilst at last being returned to use. Much of the carving of the Lamb of God had broken away over the centuries and this we replicated, carving the missing sections before adding gesso, and regilding it throughout on a terracotta bole base.

We then constructed the ‘cabinet’, replicating the contour of the tabernacle door, adding the same style of beading and we felt a soft terracotta / pink wash would be the most appropriate colouring to enable the original carving to shine once more in all its glory!

Biagio d’Antonio Tucci (1446-1516)

This pearl of a piece arrived in our workshop earlier this year suffering from the most acute attack of woodworm we had seen in our working careers.
The woodworm had eaten right through the panel and caused catastrophic damage by splitting it in two, followed by sections of wood disintegrating and falling away. This deterioration was of such severity that one side of the panel eventually subsided, threatening thereby the entire structure.
Fashioned from one solid piece of poplar wood, a traditional structure favoured by Renaissance artists of the 15th century, this rare and exquisite piece had lost all solidity, as the worm had undermined the panel. It has taken one full year of painstaking work to stabilise and rebuild this remarkable work of art.
The first stage was to eradicate the woodworm and then to entrust the piece to our outstanding panel specialist for consolidation and structural repair. With one painstaking step after another he managed to re-align the badly traumatised panel. Very cleverly and with great skill, he placed a flexible strap on the back, which bridged the area destroyed by worm, uniting thereby one stable side of the panel with the other.
Having effectively resolved the very serious problem of instability within the structure of the panel, we were then able to set to work on conserving the frame. This altarpiece dates from the early period of the Renaissance when a frame and the panel upon which an artist executed a painting were carved from one solid piece of wood. In Italy poplar trees provided the most common source of material selected by artists of the day, whereas in the Low Countries, oak, preferably from the Baltic, was the wood of choice.
As frames are such a vital part of any work of art, especially when carved from the same block as the panel, we tend, for two reasons, to conserve them first. This approach helps bring the image itself into focus during conservation, like a gold adornment on a young neck. More practically and, more importantly, it makes sense, once the peripheral structural and gilding work has been completed, then to be able to devote one’s efforts fully to the painting itself.
Cautiously and carefully, we filled and strengthened the delicate panel and sought not to create a uniform surface but, rather, one that left the kiss of age intact. Therein lies more than one challenge: how to replace and prevent in future the considerable, historic, loss of pigment caused by pressure from the original knots in the wood of the poplar panel.
As the invasive retouching was removed, a rare and fine image shone through. An onlooker may now rejoice in the level of detail revealed, a tribute to this great artist who made the most of the influence of three remarkable masters, Fra Filippo Lippi (c.1406-1469), Andrea del Verrocchio (c.1435-1488), and Domenico Ghirlandaio (1448-1494).
I am fortunate to work with outstanding colleagues whose combination of talent permits us to conserve works such as this altarpiece to the highest standard and to be able to offer bespoke solutions to the daily challenge of conservation of fine paintings, frames and other works of art.

I would like to express particular gratitude to Anna Mambrin, my remarkable Senior Conservator of Paintings, Richard Rosko, our specialist carver and gilder for his work on the frame, and finally, Fabio Mazzocchini, who worked miracles with the poplar panel, thus enabling us to work our magic.

Czech Still Life & Biedermeier Style Frame

A good and sensible frame should never detract from the quality of a painting. It should only enhance and compliment it.

This is a key principle which should always be followed when picking and choosing a frame for a work of art. Even during the eighteenth century, when extravagant baroque and rococo frames were triumphant, these rules continued to be followed.

This guiding principle was brought to mind during a recent project here in our studio. The painting in question was a busy still life attributed to the Czech artist Ernst Czernotzky (1869-1939), which arrived requiring attention to both canvas and frame.

A gentle and subtle cleaning revealed the rich colours of the artwork`s details. The strong colours of the sumptuous carpet and tapestries are particularly pleasing to the eye, especially now the picture`s yellowed varnish has been removed.

The still life had arrived in a quality historic Biedermeier style frame. Its subtle and low relief decoration is suited to the particularly busy subject matter which it surrounds. The frame`s graceful appearance only enhances the painter`s work and does nothing to compete with it.

Time and dust had caused the damage to significant areas of gilding and decoration. The corners of frames are particularly vulnerable due to pressures exerted on what are the weakest points of its structure.

As experts in framing, and using historic methods, we managed to sculpt replacement decoration by hand to replicate the surviving details in other corners. This time consuming and delicate work is sometimes the only way to ensure that the resulting finish is harmonious. Losses in the gilding too were replaced with fresh gold leaf and gently distressed to help preserve the frame`s historic patina.

These subtle details, so often and easily neglected, are essential for any successful display of artworks.

Studio of Rembrandt - King Uzziah

Over the past fourteen months we have conserved, reframed, researched and brokered the sale of a very fine painting on panel from the Studio of Rembrandt. As experts both in the conservation and in the research of oil paintings, there are few bigger names in the History of Art than Rembrandt.

This atmospheric oil on panel depicts the Old Testament King Uzziah and had been in the collection of our client`s family for at least the last one hundred years. The principal version of this picture is in the Duke of Devonshire`s collection at Chatsworth and has been with the Cavendish family since 1742. Rembrandt commanded a busy studio of assistants and students and the picture in our care appeared to have been completed in his studio under the supervision of the master himself. It is signed and dated 1641 (or 1644). Scientific analysis, including pigment and dendrochronology analysis, was undertaken and which confirmed that the support and materials were consistent with the period whilst the signature was contemporary with the completion of the work.

The picture`s appearance on its arrival at our studio was unprepossessing, the underlying image having been concealed by decades of dirty and yellowed varnish and overpaint whilst the panel itself sported an unsympathetic and low-quality gilded frame which probably dated from the Twentieth Century. Slow, painstaking and diligent cleaning of the picture uncovered the very fine brushwork and preserved impasto obscured by the dust and dirt of ages. These efforts also revealed the marvellous interplay of shadow and light, and the refined atmospheric effects Rembrandt had originally intended.

There are many aspects of the conservation and research which cannot be covered in a short article but, once the picture was conserved, our focus was on the creation of a new and fitting frame for this exceptional Seventeenth Century Dutch painting. Inspired by the ripple cut ebony frames so often employed during the Dutch Golden Age, we set to work to fashion one in our studio by combining high quality moulds especially sourced from overseas for the project. Once given a warm red bole as the ground, the resulting black ebony finish complements perfectly the shadow and flesh tones found in the painting. The result speaks for itself.

Historical research undertaken in conjunction with other Old Master specialists revealed the painting`s forgotten origins. Ownership before the Eighteenth Century is unproven but a faded inscription on the rear of the panel identifies it as the `Rembrandt` recorded as having been given to the Premier Valet de Chambre of the Dauphin of France, the son of Louis XV. The panel found its way in due course to new owners, after its sale in Paris in 1775, the last of which was British.

We are proud and delighted to share with you the meticulous and exacting effort which goes into revealing the true and rare quality of an Old Master painting from the studio of a the most highly-esteemed of all Dutch painters.

Buyers Beware!

A very curious picture was brought to our studio by a client a few weeks ago. Purporting to be a copy after Nicholaes Maes`s painting of a Lady Dozing, the picture was mounted onto what seemed to be an old stretcher and bearing a thick layer of dirt on its surface. Having been asked to conduct a cleaning test, it soon became obvious that this was in fact a print, which had obviously been doctored to make it appear like an authentic oil on canvas. The difference in value between a print and a period copy requires little explanation.

It is clear that this picture was fabricated with the intention to deceive any well-meaning buyer. Determining exactly how recently the picture was made is extremely difficult, as the tracks of its creator have been incredibly well hidden. The reverse of the painting too, bearing some old scribbled text, was obviously concocted to reel in a buyer seeking some exciting backstory or forgotten provenance.

As is often the case, many pictures are very difficult to judge until examined in the flesh. As accredited conservators, with decades worth of experience, understanding such deceptive techniques is an essential part of our work.

The old saying CAVAET EMPTOR still rings true.

Portrait Conserved for the Foundling Museum's Exhibition

Two handsome grand manner portraits by Enoch Seeman came to the studio recently for conservation so that one of the portraits could then be included in the Foundling Museum's recent exhibition entitled Ladies of Quality & Distinction. On loan from a private collection, this painting was considered by the exhibition's curators to require sensitive conservation treatment before it could be put on display.

The portrait, attributed to the artist Enoch Seeman, depicts Frances, Countess of Winchilsea (c.1690-1745) in her baronial robes. The painting's enormous size, measuring nearly two metres tall, proved no problem for our highly skilled conservators here in the studio. Much of the work undertaken on the picture was the cleaning and removal of surface dirt, consolidating loose paint and sympathetically retouching areas of damage.

As expert conservators of historic frames, we also paid special attention in conserving the painting's highly ornate surround. This included strengthening the structural joints, which over time had loosened and weakened significantly. Once this was achieved, we stabilised the gesso ground and repaired loose plaster decoration and re-gilded damaged areas where necessary.

Once completed, the painting was installed amongst the many other fine pictures of the notable ladies involved with this important charitable institution throughout history. These included works by William Hogarth, Godfrey Kneller, John Vanderbank, Charles Phillips and Thomas Hudson.

Battle of Texel - A Colossal Maritime Conserved

Over the last nine months our studio has been busy conserving and restoring a powerful seventeenth century Dutch Marine. Measuring over one and a half metres tall, and nearly two and a half metres wide, this colossal painting arrived into our studio requiring attention.
Careful removal of the thick yellowed varnish uncovered areas of damage hidden by previous campaigns of restoration. Overzealous overpaint has now been removed revealing the artist's outstanding attention to detail. All other areas of damage have since seen seamlessly retouched, which has finally allowed the painting to appear as a coherent whole once more.

Needless to say, the painting arrived with no attribution and bearing a vague indication as to the precise scene of the battle. As marine specialists, we set about researching both spheres which could tell us more about the picture’s murky history. Comparison to other paintings of the period has confirmed the attribution of this picture to the Flemish marine painter Peter van de Velde (1634-1723/4). Other examples of his work, including those in the Rijksmuseum, exemplify the duskier colours the artist used in capturing tempestuous seas, alongside the precise brushwork in the details of the ships decoration and sailors caught in action. Our research also concluded that this is undoubtedly a depiction of the Battle of Texel (1673). The victorious Dutch Admiral Van Tromp’s flagship the Golden Lion, visible in the foreground, is depicted engaging with British vessels commanded by the notorious Prince Rupert of the Rhine. The English Ship Royal Prince, according to the historical accounts, can be seen on the far right having been separated from the rest of the fleet.

The before and after images make clear the vast amount of work that went into conserving this outstanding marine, the results of which have allowed this picture to visually set sail.

A Dutch Portrait Conserved and Reframed

2019 has been off to a busy start, with preparations for the upcoming BADA fair requiring a great deal of attention alongside our thriving studio.
One recently completed project, of which we were particularly proud, was the conservation and redisplay of a seventeenth century portrait attributed to the Dutch artist Gortzius Geldorp (1553-1618).

The picture had arrived in a nineteenth century lacklustre painted black frame accompanied by a thin gilded slip. To make the most of this relatively austere portrait, we decided to produce an outset Dutch ripple frame in our studio that would enhance the artist's original intentions. This was achieved using highly decorative ebony stained cut moulding.

Sensitive cleaning by our conservators had revealed the warm flesh tones in the sitter's face, details which were completely lost in the painting's previous setting. To achieve a greater unity between picture and frame, the moulding's undercoating of terracotta bole has been allowed to subtly shine through the black staining, which has enhanced the harmony of the picture greatly.

As specialist framers, with vast experience and knowledge of all eras and styles of the fine and decorative arts, we recognise how important and integral frames are in the presentation of paintings. The results speak for themselves.

G F Watts - Sir Galahad

As passionate admirers of the work of George Frederick Watts (1817-1904), in the summer we had the pleasure of conserving and restoring a fine picture belonging to the Watts Gallery in Compton, Surrey, which had recently been presented to them.

Sir Galahad, painted at around 1860-62, is the perfect evocation of the neo-medieval aesthetic that Watts so greatly admired. This small-scale version, perhaps a sketch for the larger canvases that exist in full length format at Harvard, Eton College and in a private collection, was produced under the influence of Burne Jones and Rossetti, with whom Watts had been travelling and working with during this period. Working in a style which came closest to the Pre-Raphaelites, this work is said to have taken inspiration from Tennyson’s poem of the very same subject.

Painted onto a very coarsely grained canvas, the picture entered our studio under a thick and discoloured varnish. Once carefully removed, the true vibrant colouring of the artist soon emerged from the murky shadows. The glistening gothic armour and majestic horse once again play an active part in the scene as Watts had intended.

The picture’s frame, entirely typical of the ‘Watts Frame’ style, required consolidation, cleaning and replacements of broken decoration. As is often the case, delicate details in gesso are susceptible to being snapped off and replaced with poorly executed work or simply painted over in gold to hide the damage. The result of this neglect detracted from the quality of the picture and required serious attention. Replacements were made by making a mould of surviving ornament and recasting in composition.

We are thrilled that the picture is once again on display in the Watts Gallery, in the artist’s former studio no less, surrounded by other celebrated works of this truly great Victorian painter.


This enchanting portrait came with a highly acidic oval slip and deadly frame. We conserved the image and reframed it using a carved gold leaf and gesso frame.

Painting on marble: Portrait of a Gentleman, thought to be John Ruskin (1819 - 1900) by Thomas Heathfield Carrick (1802 - 1874)


This vibrant watercolour and bodycolour came to the studio in an acidic mount and rotten frame. We conserved, remounted and reframed it in sympathy with the colouring of the paper, using our own unique design.

Watercolour: A Stork by Ceri Richards (1903-1971)


This enchanting long thin 18th Century watercolour was acquired framed in a highly acidic mount. We removed the acid from the paper, remounted it to compliment the colouring of the hand made paper which the artist had used, and reframed it, using gold leaf and gesso. The 'before' and 'after' images show the enormous difference tender conservation and reframing can make.

Watercolour: 'Ile Sainte-Marguerite', signed and inscribed as title by Dominic Serres, RA (1722 - 1793)


This charming portrait arrived in a damp and damaged state. The whole picture had turned dark brown, stained by the acid in the backing boards and mount. Interspersed across the image were spots of damp and the colours had become distorted and inharmonious. The watercolour & Pastel needed to have all the acid cleaned away from the paper and during this process the pigment recovered its beautiful soft tones. The difference was startling for all to see and only emphasises how important it is to make sure that mounts and backing boards are acid free and, if possible, that the glass has a UV filter.

Painting: 19th Century watercolour, pastel and gouache (bodycolour) portrait, by John Hayter (1800-c.1891/5)


A house flood caused extensive damage to this beautiful portrait. The water totally dehydrated the oil paint causing extensive ‘blooming’ – where the pigment becomes white and ghost-like across the surface. In order to cure the damage, the painting had to be given a delicate clean before being lined urgently. The lining revived the pigment allowing the full density of colour to return once more.

Painting: Victorian Portrait of a Lady


A frame can enhance or detract from a painting. This charming portrait had long since lost its original frame and was presented to me in a recently made narrow timber frame that had no dignity whatsoever. The after photograph reveals a unique carved frame (5 ½” / 14 cm wide) with a high back edge extensively decorated with leaves and beading. The wide central plateau then moves towards the inner decorated edge and a simple slanted inner slip leads the eye into the portrait itself. This powerful work had to have a frame of equal majesty to give it back its dignity.


Works of art are very vulnerable when being transported and this particular work was damaged by a foot through the painting. The picture had to be cleaned to remove the varnish and any surface dirt and subsequently lined as the tear was so extensive. The lining reabsorbs the pigment and it gives the painting support behind the large area of damage. A fine filler is then placed in the seams where the pigment had been lost, it is then retouched to a minimum and varnished.

Painting: 19th Century English School, Landscape


This is a fine example of how a painting can respond when the surface dirt is removed with a light clean. It had been housed in an attic where damp had caused the pigment to ‘bloom’ resulting in large areas of opaque discolouration across the surface of the canvas. The painting had also been finished with a damar resin varnish which had become heavily discoloured with age. Once the stained varnish and engrained dirt had been delicately removed, the picture came to life with a superb depth of colour. The clothing revealed a lavish embroidery and the guards sparkled in their armour. The carpet at the feet of the Emperor, revealed its magnificent double headed eagle representing the power of both the church and state.

Painting: Frederick Wilhelm Martersteig (1814-1899) depicted Luther at Worms, in 1531.


This exquisite 18th century frame is an excellent example of a frame that had suffered neglect resulting in all four corners being totally broken. The joints were taken apart, re-glued and repinned. To gain the best support, discrete wood backing plates were then pinned behind each corner. The surface of the gilding on both frames was cleaned, stabilised, and the central scroll along was repaired and rebuilt. Once all the minor chips and repair work had been undertaken, the frames were re-gilded and waxed. .


Similar to when skin has been too long in the sun, oil paint loses its flexibility and becomes tired and degraded over time. It then loses its adhesion to the canvas, lifts and sheds. When this happens it is vital that the painting is lined to reabsorb the pigment back into the canvas before more paint is lost. The before image demonstrates how the pigment has crystallised on the surface prior to extensive paint loss. The after image illustrates the lining with all the pigment reabsorbed back into the canvas. This crucial process allows the painting to regain its full density of colour by rejuvenating the painting to its original glory.

Painting: Chinese Oil Painting c1800

Seventeenth Century Marine in the Studio

Marines rarely come larger than this. Measuring in at around one and a half by two and a half meters, this late seventeenth century battle scene is currently undergoing treatment in our conservation studio. As is so often the case with such pictures, damages are found throughout the canvas and especially where the artist has had to make joins between sections of fabric. This picture was supported by an additional layer of canvas in the seventeenth century, so as to stabilise this enormous painting and was then subsequently lined again in the nineteenth century. Only when the thick layers of discoloured varnish are removed can one see the full extent of previous campaigns of restoration. Despite this, most of the fine details of the picture are well preserved. This includes the brilliantly detailed carvings on the various ships’ sterns, often precisely painted in a bright yellow to replicate exuberant gilding. So too are the details of the various figures who can be found engaging in hand to hand combat, firing guns or rowing small boats on the turbulent waves beneath.

As Marine Specialists, we are also undertaking research on the attribution and identification. It goes without saying that it arrived in our studio bearing neither. Fortunately, conservation has potentially revealed the artist’s monogram, along with other details that has helped to reveal the picture’s true identity.

Conserving pictures such as these present great difficulties, yet, nothing is more satisfying that witnessing them emerge once again from their former state.