Cleaning paintings

There are 2 different items that are often called “cleaning”.

1) You sometimes have a dirt layer, which is due to the fact that the painting has hung in a smoky room for many years (nicotine attack) or in a house with coal stoves (red scale). Sometimes it is also a combination of dirt, flypoints, soot and nicotine.

This type of dirt, we call restorer Surface contamination and cleaning costs are depending on the size of the painting and the paint coat (thick painted or flat, a varnished or unvarnished painting, the state of the linen etc.).
This must always be looked at our studio for a correct price, but a global price for medium size painting is: € 375, – to € 520, -.

Surface contamination – Smoke and nicotine

Surface contamination -carbon mixed with nicotine

2) Once the surface contamination has been removed, a painting sometimes remains very dark.

This is caused by the fact that the varnish has been “browned” over the decades. It looks like you’re wearing sunglasses, looking at the painting.
If the restaurator has the opinion that the meaning and intention of the painting and the artist is no longer valid, it may be decided to remove this dark brown varnish.

Our restaurators call this Varnish Removal. This is a lot more work than ordinary surface contamination removal.
Varnish removal will require even more precision and care, because the varnish must often be softened with a solvent mixture and then wiped with cotton swabs, centimeters for centimeter.
The original original paint layer must remain intact.

Often, during the removal of varnishes,  older – not done so well-  restorations appear. These must then be restored.
This is often a longer-term workflow with the associated higher costs.
For a correct price estimate, the painting must always be examined in advance at our studio. A global price is: € 1250, – to € 2100, -.

Varnish removal

Varnish removal

Some last remarks..

Finally, I have to inform painting owners that some paintings are dark from itself. This relates to the era in which they were painted (eg “The Hague School” used a lot of brown, gray and dark colors.)

There are also paintings in which the (poorer) artist used cheap paint, which has been “after-darked” after many years.  The original bright colors  darkened because of the (cheaper) pigments.

The restaurator can’t change this and the only solution to hang the painting on a well-lit wall or light the painting with, for example, some led spots.

Picard Restoration Studio is a member of the Association of Restorers in the Netherlands