Large canvas conservation and restoration

Altar canvas  Misericórdia Church of Esposende, Portugal

See the solutions found for the restoration of large canvas. In addition to the ethical and technical issues that always arise in any conservation and restoration work, it was necessary to address very practical issues related to the movement and placement of this painting.

Large canvas restoration | the issues that have arisen

The restoration of painting on canvas always raises important ethical and technical questions.

The correct diagnosis, survey of pathologies and previous intervention report are always indispensable. In addition, the planning and organization of the tasks to be performed must be meticulous and the preparation of the means and materials for testing and intervention adequate.


And what about when we come across a church altar canvas, installed in a lifting mechanism, more than five meters long?

restauro de pintura sobre tela


In this case, the issues raised in the restoration of the canvas become even more numerous and the preparatory work more necessary. Several aspects related to the size of the canvas must be considered:

  • removing the canvas without causing damage,
  • the necessary space for the development of all conservative actions
  • access to all points of the work
  • the materials to choose: for example, re-sealing was carried out using a very light polyester fabric instead of linen fabric to avoid creating more weight on the work.
  • the suspension process.

Large canvas restoration | the treatment proposal

Based on the conditions described above (size and positioning of the screen) and its state of conservation, the following treatment proposal was formulated.

1.Description of the canvas.

2. Mechanical dust removal.

3. Removal of bands applied in previous interventions.

4.Fixing with 50% Primal B60 in water.

5.Application of Dammar varnish diluted 30% in White Spirit.

6. Hydrocarbon testing.

7.Application of facing ”with surgical gauze and B.E.V.A. Gel 371.

8. Preparation of the canvas for transportation.

9. Removal of patches and glues from the reverse.

10. Mechanical cleaning of the reverse with CMC gel.

11. Planning of creases.

12. Turning the screen to remove the facing.

13.Removing the facing.

14. Solubility tests according to the Feller method.

15. Chemical cleaning,

16.Application of 50% extra-fine touch-up varnish in White Spirit,

17.Application of linen patches with B.E.V.A. film and polyester.

18. Waterproofing and reinforcement of the upper and lower bands with medium linen.

19.Release with B.E.V.A. Cold gel and polyester.

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