Conservation issues on paintings in situ, introduction by B. Crijns

Improving wall paintings conservation practices – Het verbeteren van conserverende maatregelen voor muurschilderingen
RCE stresses the importance of prelimary assessment to indentify the types of techniques and materials used in the wall painting (initially and during restauration-conservation work). To identify the deterioration and make informed conservation proposals. This opposed to the more common practice to just fix the painting without taking fully into account which fysical materials or techniques were used.
RCE benadrukt het belang om vooraf gebruikte technieken en materialen (zowel door de kunstenaar als door de restauratoren) te identificeren. Om zo de verouderingsmechanieken te begrijpen en een gefundeerd behandelplan op te kunnen stellen. Dit is in tegenstelling met de meer gangbare restauratiepraktijk om te herstellen zonder rekening te houden met welke materialen of technieken in het verleden is gewerkt.)

Introduction Morning sessions
On behalf of the Cultural Heritage Agency a warm welcome to you all travelling all the way to Breda and a special thank you for the speakers whom so kindly agreed to speak today. (An overview of our program: The combination of the Picture Meeting and the Kleurhistorisch Platform is a wonderful opportunity and logical event in this day and age where conservation tends to become more and more a interdisciplinary workfield.
Worlds apart: Buildingconstruction and easelpainting conservation
Conservation of pictures onsite tends to be part of the domain of buildingconstruction. Which brings on a harsh reality as it differs greatly from the museum conservation studios. I am happy that the building environment does get positive impulse from the knowledge obtained by easelpainting conservation research. BUT for wall paintings this has some drawbacks, as the materials and techniques originaly used are different and behave in a different way. For instance paraloid or varnishes used on easelpaintings, and was adopted for wall painting conservation, tend not to be compatable with wall paintings.
The knowledge of materials and techniques is crucial in conservation
Little is know of the materials and techniques used to create wallpainting or used for conservation of wall paintings. While the knowledge of their nature and of their behavior is essential to ensure appropriate conservation and maintenance procedures. This topic will be adressed by in the morning session which focuses on the conservation research of the Christophorus here in Breda. In Italy this type of conservation research is very common, for The Netherlands it is quite unique.
Anorganic materials are easily detected. Organic are not.
Identifying inorganic components is a relatively straightforward process, whilst doing so for organic materials remains a challenge. A large international project ‘Organic Materials in Wall Painting’, initiated by the Getty Institute, will publish there results sometime soon. The last speaker of our morning session Maria Perla Colombini collaborated in this highly interesting project. The RCE shares their view that:
the identification of organic materials in wall paintings is an important step in any conservation program for three main reasons (1) diagnostic: contribute to the knowledge required for the understanding of deterioration processes (2) preservation: provide the basic knowledge to develop an appropriate conservation intervention (particularly cleaning and consolidation) and long-term maintenance programs and (3) art historical: support and advance the study of mural painting techniques and the understanding of artistic intent. and organic materials, which are vulnerable to time and to conservation treatments and difficult to identify.
Advanced methods of investigation available today have demonstrated that organic materials were used in wall paintings far more frequently than was thought in the past. Organic constituents that are identified, include beer, wine, vinegar, egg (egg white and yolk), gall, glues, flour and starch, oils, gums, resins (that you can get on, varnishes, waxes, milk, sugar, vegetable products, and human metabolic products. Their identification is therefore an essential part of preliminary research in any conservation projects to minimize the risk of damage, to improve methods of intervention, and to plan long-term maintenance programs.

  • lopend onderzoek door Karin Keutgens, The identification of the techniques of medieval and Renaissance wall paintings in the Low Countries – Necessity of this knowledge for cultural heritage management and conservation practice, IWT, Supervisors: P. Vandenabeele, A. Bergmans, Project duration: 1 January 2012 – 31 December 2015

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