The Restoration of the Portrait of Miss Muriel Lubbock

The painting before treatment
The painting before treatment

This painting shows a young girl dressed in the height of fashion for 1898. The painting was given in 1929 to Brighton Museum by the sitter. In 2004 a group of paintings from the Fine Art collection was chosen to complement a planned display of costume. By this time the painting was in need of restoration as it had not been on public display for a long time.

The painting during varnish removal
The painting during varnish removal
Detail taken under magnification showing how discoloured varnish obscures colour
Detail taken under magnification showing how discoloured varnish obscures colour

Over many years in storage the surface of the painting had accumulated a thick layer of dirt. This layer was removed with small swabs dampened with water. Below this was a thick layer of brown varnish, hiding the true colours of the painting. Varnish is traditionally applied to paintings to enhance and protect the paint, but it discolours with age. The varnish on this painting was soluble in several solvents that did not attack the paint layer, so it could be removed without damage to the paint.

The paint layer itself was well preserved, apart from some small areas where the paint had been affected by moisture. These parts were repaired and retouched. Finally the painting was revarnished and fitted in a new frame.

This text was originally published on the Royal Pavilion and Museums’ main website.

The painting after restoration
The painting after restoration

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