The restoration of paintings on canvas and wood

The restoration of the paintings constitutes the set of operations aimed at prolonging the life of the artefact and implies an intervention on the material. By extension with “restoration” we mean the result of the intervention and also the part subjected to restoration. According to the Charter of the Conservation and Restoration of Art and Culture Objects (1987), the term identifies “any intervention which, in compliance with the principles of conservation and on the basis of previous cognitive investigations of any kind, is aimed at returning, as far as possible, the legibility and, where necessary, the use of an object”.

restauro dipinti
Beyond a precise or generic formula, the term painting restoration opens up to multiple definitions, implying not only technical-scientific methodologies but critical-aesthetic parameters, for which, by way of example, the well-known definition given by Cesare Brandi applies: “Restoration constitutes the methodological moment of recognition of the work of art in its physical consistency and in the double aesthetic-historical polarity in view of its transmission to the future “.

In the restoration of paintings it is customary to refer with the following expressions – also discussed and contested in various fields – to two main phases of intervention: aesthetic restoration (intervention on the image) and conservative restoration (intervention on the structural material).

With “aesthetic restoration” we refer generically to operations not directly aimed at consolidating the material part of the work, as in conservative restoration, but aimed at restoring legibility to the work, such as the operations of cleaning and of pictorial reintegration. These actions are characterized by the need to combine technical-scientific methodologies with reflections and therefore choices depending on critical-aesthetic factors, according to a way of proceeding particularly characteristic of the Italian school of restoration.

The “conservative restoration” is instead the restoration intervention that is limited to consolidating the existing, excluding reconstruction or reintegration operations (as in the case of aesthetic restoration). In the restoration of paintings, for example, the operations identified with the expression are essentially aimed at consolidating the support, the preparation and the color, or interventions aimed at improving the mechanical characteristics of the product and at blocking, as much as possible, the chemical-physical and biological degradation processes in progress.