Art Gallery Tour of the World
How to Read a Painting: Rembrandt's Bathesba
The Rembrandt painting Bathesba
How to Read a Painting: Feature article looking at the Rembrandt painting Bathesba
How to Read a Painting
How to Read Bathesba
How to Spot Real American Folk Art Paintings
An American Style
Glossary of American Art
Things to Look For
Collecting American Art
California & Regional Paintings
Yale Dictionary of Art and Artists by Erika Langmuir, Norbert Lynton
Davenport's Art Reference and Price Guide 2001-2002 by Raymond Davenport, Lisa Reinhardt
Currier's Price Guide to American Artists at Auction
you want an Appraisal?
RELINING OLD PAINTINGS
It's not a do-it-yourself operation
Like aging movie stars, most paintings need professional help as
they start to droop and sag. Fortunately, adding a canvas lining usually isn't
as expensive or as traumatic as plastic surgery.
Barry Bauman, owner and director of the
Chicago Conservation Center, says most paintings require lining work by the
time they're 150 years old, often due to humidity or rough handling. The terms
lining and relining, while very similar, refer to two different procedures.
Attaching a backing to a previously unlined painting is called lining.
Attaching a new backing to an older, deteriorating canvas is called relining.
Oil painting before
undergoing relining process
A careful observer can tell when a painting needs work. "A painting will
usually develop concentric arch-shaped cracks radiating from the corners,"
Bauman says. "At that point I feel justified that the painting would be
better preserved by having it go through a lining process."
Lining and relining are not
do-it-yourself operations, no matter how Martha-like you are, according to
Elizabeth Kendall, owner and director of Parma Conservation, in Chicago.
"A lot of times museums have lists of
private conservators in the area who are experienced," she says. The
American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works offers a
free booklet about choosing a conservator. The institute also names certain
conservators Fellows based on their experience and publications.
Oil painting after
The primary goal in the lining process is to save the painting without
altering it in an irreversible way. Choosing the proper adhesive to bind
the new lining to the painting is key.
"You could probably talk to 10 different restorers and get 10
different takes on doing things well," Kendall says. "I really
believe in using products similar to the original painting, so as not to
alter the chemicals."
Kendall and Bauman agreed that new synthetic adhesives like Beva and
Plexisol have helped improve the lining process because they aren't
water-based and don't react to humidity. Unlike Bauman, however, Kendall
avoids wax, which she says can penetrate the layers of the painting and
slightly alter its appearance.
Choosing the linen canvas lining typically is easier. If the painting has
been lined before, conservators try to pick a linen canvas that matches
the weave and thread count of the previous canvas. "If you have a
fine weave canvas and you mount it to a coarse weave canvas, you'll be
able to see the coarseness of that weave from the front," Bauman
says. "That really diminishes the value of the painting."
Both Bauman and Kendall said costs vary widely for lining and relining,
depending on the nature of the problem and the age of the painting.
"You should try to find the best conservator," Bauman says.
"People don't go to a doctor and compare prices. If you have
something you love and something that's valuable to you, you shouldn't
worry about the price."
For more information, contact the American Institute for Conservation of
Historic and Artistic Works at 202-452-9545.
Have your favorite photos painted on canvas. We loved the look and the quality of these Artistique
masterpieces. Check it out
Conserving Paintings: Basic Technical Information for Contemporary Artists
by Allan Byrne
The Restoration of Paintings
by Knut Nicolaus
The Conservation of Wall Paintings : Proceedings of a Symposium Organized by the Courtauld Institute of Art and the Getty Conservation Institute
by Sharon Cather