On arrival: Discolored varnish, breaks in support
Consolidated, lined, cleaned, filled, inpainted, resurfaced
Antonio Jacobsen, 19th C American, oil on canvas
This valuable marine painting by Antonio Jacobsen, which was in fine condition when purchased, was damaged by a moment of inattention by its unfortunate owner.
The painting was first covered with a reversible facing tissue and then flattened around the damage and along each tacking edge on blotters using moisture and weights. Once the break was back in plane and the threads realigned, it was patched with mulberry tissue and diluted PVA to hold it in place during the lining process.
A separate linen canvas, somewhat larger than the painting, was stretched, soaked, and restretched so there was no possibility of further expansion. Threads were pulled to ensure that the weave was parallel to the strainer while stretching. Melted conservation wax was then applied to the back of the painting and to the lining canvas and the two were laminated together on a vacuum hot table. The heat of the table re-melts the wax and the pressure of the vacuum as well as an energetic application of rollers to extrude excess wax fuses them together and ensures that there are no remaining air pockets. The lined painting was then restretched on a Lebron expansion stretcher.
The painting was lightly cleaned and gesso fillings were placed in areas of paint loss and screeded to level with the surface. After a separating coat of acryloid B-67 was brushed on, the fillings were inpainted with pure ground pigments in a medium of B-67 and xylene. The colors were applied dot by dot with a small sable brush using a magnifying head loupe and a 500 watt bulb to aid the color matching. Most of the damages in this painting were in the sky. Skies tend to be particularly difficult to inpaint because they are smooth and flat and there is nothing to distract attention from any imperfection in the color matching.
When inpainting was complete, the surface was sprayed with two coats of B-67 in xylene followed by two sprayed coats of paraloid B-72. The painting was reframed and a foam core backing attached to the stretcher to protect its reverse side. It was then ready to be enjoyed with past disasters forgotten.