Ironing Artemisia

October 8 2018

Video: National Gallery

The National Gallery has nearly finished conservation of their newly acquired Artemisia Gentileschi Self-Portrait. And very fine it looks too. I went to see it in the conservation studio recently. The overall condition is very good, and the lighting in the picture works well, which you'd only get with the majority of the glazes and layers intact. In the above video you can see the final stages of the re-lining process. Don't be alarmed to see the conservators taking an iron to Artemisia's face - this is part of the process of making the new lining canvas bond to the original canvas. Of course, in the old days this was often done badly, and sometimes you'll see a paint surface with all the impasto squashed flat - like roadkill - from the application of an iron that was on a cotton setting, when it should have been on silk. 

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