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Conservation and Restoration

The Consequences of Wax-Resin Linings

for appearance and conservation of large-scale Dutch canvas paintings from the Golden Age

dr. E.M. (Emilie) Froment

Lecturer

This research studies the effect of wax-resin lining on Dutch paintings from the Golden Age. It will allow painting conservators to recognize and anticipate relating conservation problems, provide art historians the opportunity to re-assess the appearance of these paintings, and will offer the broad public a renewed perception of this important part of our cultural heritage.

Since the middle of the 19th century in the Netherlands, paintings on canvas have been lined with wax-resin. It is generally acknowledged that at least 90% of Dutch 17th century paintings in the Netherlands have been subjected to such wax-resin lining treatments in the past. Considering this large number of works, including  famous paintings, such as Rembrandt's The Night Watch (1642) and the gallery paintings in the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, it is important to undertake this research to better understand the implications of wax-resin lining for future conservation treatments of Dutch canvas paintings from the Golden Age.

The darkening of tonal values is considered to be one of the consequences of the method. This dissertation starts from the hypothesis that the visual consequences of wax-resin impregnation vary in relation to the original painting technique used. The research aims to investigate the optical effects of wax-resin impregnation in relation to the preparatory layers present on large-scale paintings on canvas.

The research methodology involves making test models that aim to replicate the original material and technical characteristics of the priming layers of a selection of paintings that have been specifically chosen for their relevance to the topic. Each set will subsequently undergo a wax-resin impregnation and the resulting colour change will be measured using a spectrophotometer. This will provide sufficient data to establish a prediction tool that will allow painting conservators to recognize and anticipate conservation problems when confronted with wax-resin lined Dutch 17th century paintings. Furthermore, the results will support the development of an IT-programme that will provide a corrected perception of the artificially darkened paintings for art historians and the public at large, offering the opportunity to re-assess the appearance of large scale Dutch canvas paintings from the Golden Age.

Supervisors:

Em. prof. dr. Jørgen Wadum, UvA

Prof. dr. Aviva Burnstock, Courtauld Institute of Art

PhD Defense

UvA DARE