When discussing the science of painting conservation with a friend he asked, "You just paint on the painting don't you?" This is a common misconception and over simplification since art conservation requires an understanding of the creation of artworks, art history, chemistry, physics, a little magic, and enormous patience.

An appreciation of surface chemistry is a good beginning for paintings conservators. Above is a TEAS chart which maps molecular forces such as non polar dispersion forces, polar dipole forces, and hydrogen boding forces. We sometimes use this diagram to help understand the solubility parameters of surface dirt, varnishes, and paint films so that we can guide our treatment strategies.

Modesto Texidor y Torres

1854 - 1927

Oil on canvas, 1892

Barcelona, Spain

Commissioned and exhibited in the

World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893

Infortunio arrives at the studio/lab from its home in Healdsburg, California. Also seen are two of our favorites: Tom Bergthold - Master Carpenter and Ashley Moody - Conservation Assistant.

Before treatment

After painting & frame treatment

Conservation of an elegant aristocrat

Tear repair of an unidentified landscape

We recently concluded work on an unsigned California Impressionist painting bearing remarkable similarities to landscapes created by Marion Ida Kavanagh Wachtel (1870 - 1954) or Hanson Puthuff (1875 - 1972). The painting was presented with substantial surface dirt, a discolored varnish, approximately 21 inches of tears and paint losses and required an extensive intervention concluding with a delightful outcome.

Painting Tear Repair

Featuring Keara Teeter formerly a graduate of Winterthur

graduate school for art conservation and now an objects conservator.

Featuring Ian McClure, former conservation assistant, removing an old lining

canvas that was glued to the back of a 19th century oil painting.

     19th c. oil on canvas, unknown San Francisco artist. Before treatment

After cleaning, tear repairs, inpainting, and frame restoration

Édouard Leon Cortès




Click to view

Cortès captured Paris during its heyday and continued this into the 20th century. His beautiful depictions of Paris were in demand and he continued to paint them until his death in 1969. They are now found in the most prestigious collections throughout the world.

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After Treatments


19th century French Impressionist

painting that was damaged in storage

Paintings are often damaged in transport. Consult a conservator before transporting your fine art.

This 19th c. iconographic painting was stored in a shed in Mexico for decades before resurrection.

Anna Marie Probst

Artist unknown

Oil on canvas

19th century

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