Portrait of Sir John Lindsay by David Martin (1737 – 1797)
Complex treatment of an 18th century portrait painting from the collection at Scone Palace
The painting, executed in oil on canvas, had undergone extensive previous restoration. The original support had been glue-paste lined, probably to treat an inverted L-shaped tear damage sited just below the sitter’s chin. Degradation of the lining canvas had led to the development of tearing over the stretcher joints along the turnover edges. Visually, the painting was in a poor condition, with heavy discoloured overpaint covering large swathes of the image. Additionally, at least two extremely discoloured varnish coatings, interspersed with layers of thick, sooty surface dirt, sat on the picture surface.
The support required structural treatment to repair the tearing and brittle tacking margins, and to remove a prominent deformation towards the lower mid-edge of the painting. The removal of varnish and overpaint was complex, requiring a variety of treatment options to safely remove the various layers without endangering the original paint surface beneath. After cleaning, an isolating varnish layer was applied to the painting, prior to filling and retouching. An appropriate finish to the picture was then achieved with the application of sprayed final varnishing layers.
The gilt frame was cleaned and consolidated. Losses to the frame moulding were filled and toned. A softwood build-up was secured to the back of the frame to accommodate the depth of the painting and provide adequate protection at the reverse. The painting was refitted with cushioning material to protect the edges of the picture surface. A flexible, strong but lightweight backing was then applied to the reverse of the framed ensemble, to protect the painting during transit and display.
Full documentation was provided.