At the end of last year I filled the areas of loss in the tears on Jackson’s ‘Boats on the Shore’ with a proprietary filler which is easily reversible. (The tears were above the rock on the right.)
I then retouched the areas of filling using dry pigments in a medium. See below:
This work was completed in December 2010.
The frame is in very poor condition and I’ll be working on that in 2011 and re-uniting it with the picture.
After a short break I have continued cleaning ‘Boats on the Shore’ over the past two weeks. The first image shows the picture almost half cleaned and the second shows the two remaining areas to be cleaned.
The picture below shows the cleaning completed. Next week I will begin work on filling the paint losses in the area of the consolidated tears.
After successfully flattening distortions in the canvas using moisture and pressure I have introduced a heat-seal adhesive to consolidate the edges of the tears which are now nicely in alignment.
The picture has now been placed face up and the facing tissue has been carefully removed.
The painting post tear is as follows:
Not much time to spend on ‘Boats on the Shore’ this week…
However, the tears on the painted side of the picture have been protected from further paint loss or damage by adhering strong tissue paper to the affected areas.
The picture can now be placed face down and pressure in the form of small weights applied to flatten any distortions in the canvas. Damp blotting paper and a heated spatula applied locally assists in the flattening and the edges of the tear can be aligned before further treatment.
Back at work after a short break. I have continued with test cleans on ‘Boats on the Shore’ on different areas of the picture to ensure that different pigments react uniformly to the solution – this is not always the case.
It appears that the picture is unvarnished – i.e. there is no surface coating on top of the paint layer. The picture has a dull brownish-yellowish appearance which has the effect of flattening out the colours and it seems that this is caused by the significant layer of surface dirt rather than an aged varnish. Further tests are required to confirm this.
I will be concentrating on the tears in the following weeks…
A shorter progress update this week as I am not solely working on ‘Boats on the Shore’…
I removed the picture from its frame and turned my attention to the paint layer.
I carried out a surface test clean in the sky using a moistened cottonwool swabstick, near the edge of the picture. It is always advisable to commence tests in the most unobtrusive area. In this case the test revealed that there is a significant layer of surface dirt obscuring the colours of the paint. I will do further test cleans on other areas and see how the different pigments react.
This week, after taking a number of photographs, I am writing up my condition report on ‘Boats on the Shore’. The report includes detailed descriptions of both back and front of the picture.
The reverse of the frame has this handwritten label – signed and inscribed in ink:
No 8 Sketch FW Jackson Middleton Junct. Nr Oldham.
The painting is also signed in the lower right corner on the front. The report records details of the damages – the length and shape of the tears, any paint loss, the condition of the paint, the canvas and the adhesion of the paint to the canvas support.
The picture is attached to a wooden stretcher and has eight keys (or wedges) which are used to tighten the canvas if necessary. These can become loose and lodge themselves between the back of the canvas and the stretcher bar causing a bulge visible on the front of the picture. The Jackson has all eight wedges in place but there is some debris in the corners, including an old spider’s web.
As part of the conservation work on the picture the keys will be attached to the stretcher bars to prevent them causing a problem if they become dislodged.
Hello, I’m Jill Irving and my job at The Herbert is Easel Paintings Conservator.
I love the fact that my work is extremely varied – involving ‘hands on’ practical stuff together with problem-solving. I am involved in condition checking of loans in and out of the gallery and monitoring the environment – light, temperature, humidity, vibration and dust are all potential hazards. The treatments I carry out on the pictures and frames in our collection range from surface cleaning through to varnish removal, stabilisation of loose paint, structural repairs – tears etc – filling and retouching of paint losses. All treatments are fully documented with detailed reports and photographs.
I am about to start treatment on a picture we’ve had in the collection since 1943 and because it is totally unconserved,
I thought it might be the perfect candidate for a blog! The canvas has two tears, the varnish is yellowing and the frame has considerable damage.
The painting is by F.W. Jackson, (1859-1918) and its title is ‘Boats on the Shore’. Fred Jackson was a founder member of the New English Art Club in 1886. After periods in Oldham, Manchester, Brittany, Wales and Paris, he settled near Whitby. He is notable for being an English artist who worked in the Barbizon manner. Influenced most by Bastien Lepage in France, he in turn influenced a number of the younger Staithes Group of artists. There is a photograph of Jackson painting on the beach at Staithes, or possibly Runswick Bay, with Dame Laura Knight. You can view it here: http://www.fwjackson.co.uk/
Watch the picture’s progress!