Before and after cleaning

Cleaning and restoring old and antique artworks is a very rewarding task. It takes a huge amount of patience, but adding to the quality and longevity of an antique piece is a great thing to do!  The most common damages I encounter in paintings and paper art prints are:

Restoration work

In paper items I often encounter tears and rips, folds, foxing, paper burn, tidelines, dirty spots and mold. Also, paper changes color after many years. microorganisms eat the wood pulp that is present in paper, and in the process they and excreed acids. These acids give the paper a yellow or even brown tint. The higher the wood pulp content of the paper, the yellower the paper becomes.
Damage I encounter in paintings often consists of loose and waving canvas, small holes in the canvas, yellow and brown lacquer (caused by nicotine and chimneys) crackle of the paint, missing paint chips, stains and scratches.
Its no wonder that repairs, cleaning and enhancement on these artworks make some great before and after pictures! Next to the images you can find a short description f the work that was done.

Before and after pictures

before and after cleaning of an antique painting Arie Jaarsveld
The cleaning of an antique oil painting by Arie Jaarsveld, ca. 1920.
After finding the right solvent gel, this wonderful painting was stripped from its brown lacquer. The brown layer of lacquer mainly consisted of cigarette and cigar soot. The brown layer resulted in a green veil over the painting. Beautiful colors emerged. The colors regained the warmth of an Indian summer day as it was captured by the artist around 1920.
before and after cleaning of an antique engraving, Knilling
A Knilling engraving featuring 16th European fashion.
I removed the acidic build up in the paper by washing this 1870 print in a bath of Calcium hydroxide and demineralized water. To keep the colored areas as colorful as possible I did not sun bleach the print after the bath. The paper isn’t white as snow and never has been, (this is paper that has a high level of wood pulp (19th- and early 20th century paper) The washing helps foremost to conserve the paper by removing acids from the paper.
Before and after picture of the cleaning of a water damaged pastel drawing, Ed Jeska
Pastel crayon painting/drawing by Ed Jeska, 1937.
This artwork has water damage on both sides. There are thick tidelines visible. I scraped of moldy patches & removed dirt on the backside. I filled in the water-damaged areas with a new layer of oil pastel and afterwards I fixated the pastel crayon powder with fixation spray for pastel crayon. The water damage took place long ago, so the paper was dry and the mold not active .
Before and after picture of the cleaning of an antique Etching, Sabelspoort Arnhem 1900
The Sabelspoort Arnhem, etching ca. 1900
I removed the acidic backing,  (cardboard high in wood pulp fibre) I used a scalpel knife and peeling technique and wetted the paper to dissolve the old and natural glue. After this I aqueous cleaned the paper using a bath of Calcium Hydroxide and demineralized water. It was then pressed, dried and sun bleached.
Before and after cleaning picture of an antique woodcut Rol, Verkade chocolate
“Cactus” woodcut by the Verkade album Rol family 1935
The print was aqueous cleaned and sun-dried. I treated the foxing spots by wetting them with a few drops of ammonia mixed in with 5 ml of demineralized water. The brown pigment of the spots can be “released” as it were by the ammonia. Watch out for tidelines tho, by wetting a larger area around the spot. This procedure is best done before an aqueous treatment so the fresh tidelines will rinse away for the most part. Here is a instruction of the Getty museum on how to lessen foxing spots
Before and after cleaning picture of a woodcut by A Remiens, Art Deco, 1920
An Art Deco Woodcut by the famous Dutch art Deco designer A.Remiens, 1920.
I carefully removed the tape that was used to mount the print to a piece of cardboard. I was happy to find the glue dried out for the most part, so it was not to hard to remove. After this, the woodcut was cleaned aqueous, pressed and sun bleached.
before and after cleaning picture of an antique oil painting, copy matthäus schiestl 1915
A big antique painting after Matthaus Schiestl ca.1915
This painting is a copy of the work that is hanging in Domburg Germany. Notice how the brown smoke soot containing of nicotine and tar, leaves a greenish haze on the painting. The brown lacquer was removed inch by inch. I touched up and retouched damaged areas with oil paint. After a drying period, I applied a new layer of lacquer and the beautiful colors that were used on this painting were noticeable again. By removing the old layer the crackling on the painting was also greatly diminished.  (this painting is sold)
before and after picture of removing acidic backboard of an antique linocut, Han Krug, 1935 
Panoramic linocut by Han Krug 1935.
The paper turned brown because of the acidic cardboard it was glued on. It was glued over the whole surface area of the print. It was carefully removed from the board with a scalpel knife, layer by layer. After the removing of the cardboard it was washed in a bath of distilled water with added calcium hydroxide. The print took a lot of damage from the procedure, so some retouching was necessary. The ink that Han Krug used on this linocut was thicker on some areas, this made the paper bulge and wave. It was pressed and dried several times with extra weights placed on the areas where the ink was thick. Some weak areas around the edges enforced with Kozo paper. It was then mounted on acid free board, matted and framed. (this linocut by Han Krug is sold)
before and after cleaning picture of an antique lithograph by Bernadina Bokhorst 1920
Lithographic print by Midderigh Bokhorst,  1935.
This print was washed & sun-bleached.  Tares were mended with Kozo paper. Some damages to the ink were filled in with pencil. After this it was framed in a new frame. (sold)
Before and after picture of the cleaning of an antique postcard by Wiechmann 1890
An antique postcard by Herman Wiechmann, ca 1898.
It was aqueous cleaned.then pressed and dried. I Retouched the cracked area (running through the middle of the illustrated area with black ink and mended the little tear at the bottom with Kozo paper. After the mending it was pressed again.
Before and after picture cleaning an antique painting, nicotine, Eckhardt, 1892
An antique oil painting by CW Eckhardt, 1892.
This wonderful painting was covered in a thick layer of brown soot. This damage, caused by heavy smoking is often found in paintings from the 19th and 20th century. The painting was cleaned with an ammonia containing solvent gel. After the clean, the painting got a new coating of lacquer. The lovely colors, purposely used by Eckhardt, emerged again as they did when he made the painting in the 19th century.

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