Restoration (cultural heritage)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Art restoration)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Example of painting and frame restoration – before and after

Restoration is a process that attempts to return cultural heritage to some previous state that the restorer imagines was the "original". This was commonly done in the past. However, in the late 20th century a separate concept of conservation-restoration was developed that is more concerned with preserving the work of art for the future, and less with making it look pristine. Restoration is controversial, since it often involves some irreversible change to the original material of the artwork with the goal of making it "look good." The attitude that has developed in recent years with the development of conservation is to attempt to make all restoration reversible.


Restoration of Kariye Camii, Istanbul, 1957

Art conservation can involve the cleaning and stabilization of art work. Ideally, any process used is reversible, departures from that ideal not being undertaken lightly. Cleaning is not a reversible process and can sometimes be controversial due to fears that cleaning would damage a piece, or on the grounds that damage or residue forms part of the history of a given piece and should not be modified. Michelangelo's statue of David has undergone two cleanings to remove dirt that had accumulated on the statue's surface.

Art restoration is vital to the survival of classical paintings and is part of the scientific application of chemistry. It often involves research to determine the original colors and materials of a work.

Watercolor on fresco[edit]

The use of watercolor paints to inpaint damages on fresco is an example of a technique utilized to achieve almost complete reversibility. This is the technique used in the 20 year restoration of Da Vinci's The Last Supper in Milan. One of the most popular inpainting techniques used today is the Tinted Varnish Treatment. This process is done once the piece is fully cleaned and varnished. This last step in the restoration process is to then go into spots where original paint may be missing, or where patched holes and other irregularities may lie. The restorer then goes in with tinted varnish over the top of the non-tinted varnish. This gives the illusion that the spots have been "re-painted", while in fact it is just a spot of tinted varnish. Most commonly "stippling" is used while using tinted varnish, in order for light to reflect similar to paint. This is done by using tiny dots in a row for variance.

Painting with light[edit]

In 2014, Harvard Art Museums exhibited murals by Mark Rothko from 1961 and 1962 which had faded due to their original display in a dining room. It restored the works to their original appearance by digitally projecting light carefully calibrated at each pixel from a photograph of the original colors, which made up the difference between the current and original appearance without damaging the material.[1][2]

History of art restoration[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Harvard uses projection technology to shine new light on faded Rothko murals". 2014-06-03. Retrieved 2015-06-07.
  2. ^
  3. ^ James. Oliver (4 June 1865). "Account books, 1865-1868, 1872-1890" – via
  4. ^ "United States Patent: 2073802".