Sarah Cove ACR
Sarah Cove ACR, FIIC, FBAPCR is an Accredited conservator-restorer of easel paintings and frames based in Falmouth, Cornwall. Having worked in London and SE England for over 35 years, she relocated to Cornwall in 2019, but continues with London and SE-based work on a regular basis.
For more information, testimonials and examples of work please go to: www.sarahcoveacr.com
This studio carries out museum standard conservation treatments for easel paintings and historic frames ranging from major studio-based projects on individual paintings to condition surveys with remedial and preventive conservation work carried out in the studio or on site as appropriate. Our clients are mostly heritage collections, historic trusts and private owners so we are experienced at finding practical and pragmatic solutions to satisfy a diverse range of needs and budgets. We work on paintings from all Schools but we specialise in British Art from c.1500 to the present, with an emphasis on British portraiture and 19th and 20th century landscapes generally (including oil sketches on paper and board) notably John Constable, the Newlyn and St. Ives schools (19th & 20th c.) the Norwich school and marine paintings. Increasingly, we are finding that unvarnished 20th century paintings are needing remedial treatments such as surface cleaning, minor structural treatments, adjustments to framing and surface protection for their long-term preservation. This is particularly critical as often 20th century artists' materials lack the quality and longevity of earlier works. This, combined with 'modern' painting techniques, makes these paintings especially vulnerable to natural ageing and environmental fluctuation.
Unlike many conservators, we have the expertise to carry out linings, tear mends and other structural treatments to paintings on canvas, panel and board on our own premises. Full documentation, photography and conservation framing is carried out as standard for all works. We also assist with short-to-long term budget planning for collections, rolling programs of studio and in-situ work and the storage, packing and couriering of art works. We prepare condition reports for insurance and exhibition purposes and assist with grant applications. A museum standard framing and glazing service is offered for frames accompanying paintings and we commission high quality historic reproduction and modern frames if needed.
A written treatment proposal and estimate including materials and transport costs (if any) is provided in advance of all work and agreed with the client. We have Hiscox professional conservators' insurance including public liability and professional indemnity. We may offer collection/delivery for suitable paintings, including from London, and along our regular journey on the A303/A30. We can insure and transport works up to a total value of £25,000 in our vehicle with 48 hours notice. We also advise on the wrapping and transport of large or heavy paintings and frames by experienced Fine Art carriers in Cornwall and London.
Technical and scientific examination and consultancy is available for selected works.
Sarah Cove ACR is Accredited by ICON, she is also Fellow of the British Association of Paintings Conservator-Restorers (BAPCR) and The International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC). She is a listed Corporate Supplier for the SW Federation of Museums (SWFed) and an ICON Accredited Assessor for the AIM Collections Care Conservation Grant scheme funded by the Pilgrim Trust. Sarah Cove ACR is a former Trustee of ICON. She works closely with UK-based training institutions to offer occasional bespoke internships and student placements at her Falmouth studio.
Sarah Cove ACR is an Accredited Lecturer for The Arts Society (formerly NADFAS) and is a highly experienced and internationally acclaimed lecturer and presenter. A full list of her lecture and study day titles can be found on her website and synopses are available on request. She has appeared on TV several times, notably BBC's 'Fake or Fortune?' (Series 3 & 6), 'Constable in Love' (2004) presented by Andrew Graham-Dixon and 'Art on the BBC: Constable' (2021).
Sarah Cove ACR is the leading expert on the oil painting materials and techniques of John Constable RA. She carries out consultancy work for collectors and heritage bodies worldwide. For the Constable Research Project and consultancy enquiries regarding attribution please contact Sarah Cove ACR via her website where there is further information: www.sarahcoveacr.com
We have had a productive working relationship with Sarah Cove for over a decade and have come to rely on her thoughtful and reliable guidance on condition, conservation and repair of our collections. Her work is exemplary and to the highest museum standards and we appreciate the professional way she organises her business and ensures good communication throughout any project. Sarah's international reputation is highly valued. She has also delivered well-received lectures for us on the conservation of the collection and hosted studio tours for trustees to view work in progress.
Mrs S.E.P. Threader BEng HonDSc CEng FICEBridge Clerk (CEO), Rochester Bridge Trust, Rochester, Kent (Registered Charity No. 207100)
Re. Conservation and reframing of 7 paintings from the historic painting collection of the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases (The Min), Bath, founded 1748: The old Mineral Water Hospital's 18th century collection of paintings now look utterly transformed. The majority now reside permanently in our new RNHRD & Brownsword Therapies Centre. The patients and staff were stunned and couldn't believe their transformation when they returned from your studio. Finding the budget to do this project took a long time and there was a risk that the paintings would need to go into storage indefinitely but luckily this was not the case and no one has looked back since. On behalf of the RNHRD and RUH, thank you
Hetty Dupays MFA AMRSPHArt & Design Program Manager, Art at the RUH, Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Trust
Re. Conservation and reframing of 7 paintings from the historic painting collection of the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases (The Min), Bath, founded 1748: I have been a stern critic of the RUH’s take-over of The Min, but I am heartened by the genuine care, expertise and pride the RUH have shown in making the new facility as much like home as they could. The famous William Hoare painting of Dr Oliver’s patients now greets us as we enter the building whose door is guarded by the coat of arms. Wherever we look there are familiar paintings, their eighteenth century faces and gilded frames beautifully restored.
George OdamRNHRD patient and former Chair, Friends of The Min
Sarah Cove has worked her conservation magic on four oil paintings. Each have presented differing problems and challenges allied to the variable condition of the paintings. Without exception, Sarah's expertise, skills and commitment have resulted in conserving and restoring these paintings for the enjoyment of not only the present but future generations. They look and are magnificent.
Private client, DorsetAn Equine portrait: 'Harkaway', British School, mid 19th c., oil on canvas (unlined) and others for this client
In 2016, Sarah Cove undertook the conservation of a painting by Maud, 2nd wife of Stanhope Forbes RA of the Newlyn School, a distinguished painter in her own right. Sarah works to the highest standards. She has consummate technical skill as a conservator, underpinned both by a deep understanding of the painting techniques and materials used by the artist and the historical context in which the painting was made. She is also extremely good at explaining how she sets about conserving a picture which made her work a valuable learning experience for me. Her attention to detail was also demonstrated by her work on the original silver-gilt frame and by the care that she took to preserve the information on the rear of the picture. This showed that it had been exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1933 and sold to Walter Langley, also of the Newlyn School. A very satisfied customer.
Private client, Cornwall'Red Roofs' 1933, Maud Stanhope Forbes, oil on canvas board in original silver-gilt frame
Sarah Cove has brilliantly restored a number of fragile tempera paintings by John Armstrong, including a badly damaged painting on a gessoed plywood panel that is an important early example of the Icarus theme in his work. She has carried out sensitive, appropriate and extensive cleaning and conservation of these works, based on a careful and detailed analysis of the medium he used, and provided invaluable advice and support in creating a sealed environment within the framing. She has also provided detailed condition and treatment reports for insurance purposes prior to and following exhibition
Private CollectionIcarus 1939, John Armstrong, egg tempera on plywood, and other works from this collection
I inherited a family portrait dating back to the 1630's - 'after van Dyck'. Sarah identified it at a NADFAS study day as being relatively unrestored and worth cleaning and conserving. The painting is oil on oak panel and while in quite good condition, showed signs of warping. After Sarah's work, the painting was stabilised and thoroughly cleaned to reveal hidden depths of colour and skin tone. It was reframed using her 'micro-environment' system and should remain in its present glory for generations to come. The quality was so obvious that the painting was used by Bendor Grosvenor to establish the true identity of a missing van Dyck portrait of the same sitter.
Private client, HertfordshirePortrait of Olivia Boteler Porter, After Van Dyck, mid 17thc., oil on panel
I inherited a Herbert Finn painting from my grandfather that had become dirty since its last restoration in the early 70s. It had also been damaged by children playing in the lounge making a tear which had grown considerably over time. Sarah cleaned and restored it and mended the tear so that it is impossible to tell that it was ever torn. The painting is lighter and brighter and has colours I never knew where there. She also chose a very suitable frame for me as the old frame was no good any more and the whole painting is now like new and fully restored to its original splendour!
Private client, Kent'Inside the Barbican, Sandwich', Herbert Finn (1860-1942), oil on canvas (unlined)
Central School of Art & Design, London, Foundation Course in Art, 1978-79 Courtauld Institute of Art, BA (Hons) History of Art, 1979-82 Courtauld Institute of Art, Post Graduate Diploma in the Conservation of Easel Paintings, 1982-85 Victoria and Albert Museum (Theatre Museum), Internship 1985-86 National Portrait Gallery, Assistant Paintings Conservator, Internship 1985-86 Sarah Cove ACR worked freelance since 1986, based in London The Constable Research Project established 1986 (on-going) Exte