Oil Painting

The cleaning of a painting should only be undertaken by a trained paintings conservator. Most paintings have several layers that may need cleaning.

Over the years these layers become opaque and discoloured resulting in the painting becoming very dull and in some cases very yellow or brown hiding the original colours that the artist intended.

Smoke dust and a whole host of other pollutants can cause a painting to lose its brightness.


Cleaning is the removal of layers of varnish originally designed to protect the painting, but which, over time, dulls and in some cases, has turned yellow with age.


If a painting has been badly scratched or has missing sections of paint the restorer will fill these areas and retouch them to match the original painting. Sometimes when cleaning a painting It can also remove any previous, poorly executed restorations depending on when they were done. These will be carefully restored again using the same technique as the artists brushstrokes.


This is a procedure to re-adhere flaking or delaminating paint to the canvas.

Cleaning the back of the painting

It is important to look after the back of the canvas as it is the front. Dust will collect on the back of the canvas. Also dust and debris will fall and collect behind the stretcher bars. As the temperature changes this could cause the dust to get damp causing the canvas in that area to also get damp causing the painting to start cracking and in some cases, suffer paint loss in those areas.

Patching and restoring tears

The ‘secret’ to repairing a tear in a canvas is to do it from the back of the canvas not the front. What you need to do is carefully align the threads in the tear, then stick another bit of fabric on the back to hold it in place. The hard part is doing it neatly and getting everything to lie flat.


A support applied to the back of the paining (canvas) when the original sup-port no longer has enough strength to support the painting causing tears and paint loss

Re lining/backing removal

Removal of a previous lining which no longer has structural strength or is creating problems in the painting.

Strip lining

A partial (or strip of) lining confined to the outer edges of the painting when necessary to strengthen the edges but not necessary to line the whole canvas

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