I have been reminded repeatedly that an object of value, whether financial or sentimental, tends to have a history, even if unknown to the owner. As an art historian, conservator of oil paintings, and maker of handmade frames, I want - and am determined, so far as is possible - to find out the history of the work of art with which I have been entrusted. So often that history is there for a skilled practitioner: in the image, in the pigment, and in other detail, underneath layers of dirt, opaque varnish and other discolouring. One has to look - and look again - as one sets out to establish how pictures looked in their original state.
Over the years, many paintings have come to my studio for conservation and reframing. Often, very sadly, if portraits, both artist and sitter(s) are forgotten; and, if landscapes, neither artist nor location are identified. Likewise, if seascapes, neither the vessels nor their battles have been identified. We are determined to restore these treasures to their rightful place in the history of art, thanks to thorough conservation and academic research.
We concentrate on three crucial points that we are passionate about: Restoration, scientific analysis and research, and all three come together in our conservation studios. We examine a painting in the round, showing how we go about examining pictures including: the crucial importance of stretchers, canvases and panels; recognition of individual artistic technique; identification of related drawings and other versions of the paintings upon which we are working to be found in museums and collections around the world; and the valuable input to be provided by modern scientific investigation. It is a voyage of adventure and discovery and I want to carry you with me as the focus on the conservation of these paintings in the studio leads to the unlocking of their identity.