The Storm, by Samuel Carr, came to the gallery in the bed of a pick-up truck. This large painting had been in the owner’s family for generations, accruing years of dirt, grime and nicotine to the painting’s surface along the way. Over time it had ended up in the owner’s garage only to be badly torn along the right-hand side of the painting. The canvas had become detached from the original stretchers. The owner brought it to the gallery with low expectations–surely a piece this badly damaged could not be restored.
Our conservator examined the painting and assured the family that restoration of the painting was possible. To mend the large tear the painting would need a new lining. Mr. Gratz affixed a new support and interleaf backing to the reverse of the painting using a hot table and a thermoplastic adhesive. Once the painting had been consolidated it had to be re-stretched and attached to the stretchers. Once it had been stabilized it was able to undergo the cleaning process.
We tested the various pigments and carefully cleaned the painting using cotton swabs and various cleaning agents. The cleaning agents are carefully tested to determine how they will respond to various pigments. Our conservators start with the mildest agents and build to the strongest depending on the stubborness of the dirt and grime. After removing the surface dirt and old varnish, the torn areas were carefully filled. A separation coat of varnish was applied, which allowed our conservator's in-painting to sit on top of the artist's original work- never coming in direct contact. To complete the restoration process a final coat of varnish was applied. After many hours of skilled conservation care the painting was saved.