Art Restoration

Our valuation reports often include comments about the condition of an artwork, and occasionally suggestions for the care of the artwork. If you are considering having restoration or conservation work carried out on an artwork, the information on this page may be of interest.

Please remember that PictureValuation are unable to recommend a restorer to you, or answer specific enquiries about art restoration.

Art Restoration

Art restoration is the art of returning damaged, worn and tired art works as near as possible to their original state, thus breathing new life into the art.

Not only does restoration give a much-loved artwork a new lease of life, increasing your pleasure in the piece, it can enhance the value of your art too.

Art restoration is highly skilled work, best carried out by specialists in the field. The finest restorers carry out repairs so well that the untrained eye is unable to spot any of the restoration work that has been carried out.

It may be tempting to have a go at repairing or retouching a painting or picture yourself, but the best advice we can give you is DON'T DIY!

Don't carry out repairs or restoration on your art yourself unless you really know what you are doing.... and then think again... CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL RESTORER.

There is more to art restoration than adding a few dabs of paint or sticking a piece of tape on the back of a torn canvas. Amateur repairs can do more harm than good, and can be very costly to fix in the long run, even if later remedial work is possible.

Moreover, art restoration is about more than simply repairing art. Conservation is a central principle in the restoration of art. Not only will a skilled restorer repair your art, the care the restorer shows to your art goes beyond a simple repair to ensure that the art is protected and preserved against further deterioration.

Main Types of Art Restoration

These are the main areas of art restoration:

Oil Painting Restoration

It is usually necessary to clean surface dirt, remove old filler, previous restoration work and discoloured varnish before the main restoration work on a picture can be carried out.

Tears and holes in canvas, and damaged or split panels can be repaired.

Craquelure, or crazing - a network of fine cracks - can also affect oil paintings as they age. Restorers use techniques which can lessen or eliminate the distracting appearance of craquelure, sometimes even by filling the cracks and repainting.

Sometimes a painting has to be attached to a new canvas (re-lined) if its condition has deteriorated too much.

Filling and re-painting damaged or missing areas of paint, and re-varnishing are techniques often used to complete the restoration and conservation of the work.

Restoration of Works on Paper

This is a particularly skilful area of art restoration. Old acidic backboards, mounts and glues can be removed before the restoration of watercolours and prints can be completed.

Work can be done to stabilise and conserve the paper that forms the base, or 'support' for the artwork.

Art on paper can also be cleaned, with discolouration removed or vastly reduced. Damage caused by water stains, damp or mould can be treated, including the brown spots that can appear on the paper with age (known as "foxing").

When reframing works on paper, it's important to use only the highest grade conservation or museum quality mountboards and materials.

Picture Frame Restoration

Antique frames often require cleaning and repairs to missing sections of moulding or carving. Re-gilding is commonly carried out.

Frames are restored as sensitively as possible so they are returned as closely as is possible to their original state.

Art Restorers

There are many trained and highly skilled craftsmen working in the field of art restoration, and there will almost certainly be one available to you who is not located too far away.

As with all tradesmen, it can be difficult to find a good one, of course. Don't just engage any restorer you find and hope for the best. Do a little research to find a good one, and your efforts should pay off handsomely.

Maybe you have a friend or colleague who has had an painting or picture restored who can pass on the name of their restorer to you. Maybe your local art gallery or art dealer can recommend someone to you.

Visit a few restorers to discuss your restoration job before handing over your art to be restored, and inspect some examples of their work.

Most restorers are good artists in their own right, so bear this in mind if you are tempted to do some amateur retouching yourself. You will never match the quality of restoration that a professional restorer can achieve.

There are a number of professional associations and organisations which you can contact to find a good restorer. Some of them are listed below, and you should be able to find more by using your favourite search engine.

Art Restoration and Art Conservation Links

Trade and Professional Organisations

ICON - the Institute of Conservation

The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC)

Conservation Register - information on conservation-restoration businesses providing commercial services.

British Association of Paintings Conservator-Restorers

Please remember that PictureValuation are unable to recommend a restorer to you, or answer specific enquiries about art restoration.