The Restoration of ‘Still Life of Flowers in a Glass Vase’ by Maria Van Oosterwyck (1630-1693)
‘Still Life of Flowers in a Glass Vase’, ca. 1685, oil on canvas, 31 ¾ x 26 ¼ inches (79.5 x 66.5 cm).
The project focussed on improving the legibility of the painting, as scattered light caused by elevated craquelure obscured details within the composition and was distracting to the eye. The painting was cleaned, relined, and losses were filled and retouched, before the work was varnished and re-presented in its frame. This restoration was carried out in advance of the painting’s acquisition by an American museum.
Notes on Condition (before treatment)
The painting had an old wax-resin relining, which had then been loose-lined over its stretcher. The brittle-age craquelure was quite elevated, which was scattering the light and disrupting the surface. The paint and ground layers were stable, though there was evidence of a history of paint from paint flaking, which had been retouched in a previous campaign of restoration. There was local wear to the paint caused by abrasion from past cleaning, which had resulted in the background in particular having an ‘etched’ appearance. The recently applied varnish layers were quite shiny, and there were widespread residues of an older degraded varnish and degraded old retouchings underneath.
Treatment Carried Out
Once cleaning tests had been carried out, the surface layers of dirt and dust were removed, followed by both the upper layers of recently applied varnish and restoration, and older scattered residues of varnish, retouching and filling. The painting was sent to a structural conservator to remove both old linings, and to reduce the elevated craquelure before being relined onto a new canvas.
Once back in the Studio, areas of loss to the paint and ground were filled and textured, and all areas of loss and abrasion were retouched to a high level using dry pigments dispersed in MS2A in Stoddard’s Solvent, replicating the original layer structure of the paint. Minor areas of loss resulting from past paint from paint flaking were reconstructed. Some fine-scale work was necessary to reduce the etched surface and the scattering of light, through suppressing the brittle age craquelure, and the background was locally varnished to even out the surface gloss. Once the retouching was complete, the painting was varnished with several spray coats to modify and matt the overall surface gloss.
A new iron curtain rail and silk curtain was commissioned to fit the original fixtures on the frame, and the painting was re-presented in its original frame.