Restoring a Masterwork I: Castiglione's Immaculate Conception with Saints Francis of Assisi and Anthony of Padua - Fall 1999
Main Page
The Restoration
Daily Log
Condition Report
What's Wrong?
Problem Areas
Treatment Steps
Anatomy of a Painting
The Painting
General Overview
The Artist
Related Drawings
Context - History

Anatomy of a Painting

1. Varnish and Retouching

  • The modern synthetic resin varnish has discolored with age and the accumulation of dirt and grime. The varnish does not fully saturate the paint layers.
  • At least two generations of retouching conceal areas of loss and damage.
  • The oil medium used in the older retouching and the synthetic medium of the more recent retouching no longer match the original paint.

2. Paint Layer

  • The paint is composed of dry pigments ground in a linseed, poppyseed, or walnut oil medium to a pastelike consistency.

3. Primer or Ground Layer

  • The ground isolates the paint from the canvas so that the oil medium does not rot the fabric.
  • The ground provides a nonabsorptive surface on which to apply paint.
  • The ground layer on this painting is the rich red earth color traditional in that period of Italian painting.

4. Primary Support

  • A traditional Italian open-weave linen-fiber canvas is the primary support.

5. Lining Fabric

  • The painting did not originally have a lining.
  • The lining was added later to support the deteriorated canvas.
  • A glue-paste adhesive was used to attach the lining to the reverse of the original canvas.

6. Auxiliary Support

  • The auxiliary support is an expandable wooden framework over which the lined original canvas is stretched and secured by tacks at the outer edges.
  • The present stretcher is an earlier replacement of the painting's original auxiliary support.