Recently I had the pleasure of restoring a little gem of a painting by Rosa Bonheur. The restoration involved several procedures which I’m often asked about, (Lining, facing, consolidating, patching) so I documented the work and made a video explaining what was done. The photos below show some highlights.
Rosa Bonheur, born Marie-Rosalie Bonheur, (16 March 1822 – 25 May 1899) was a French artist, an animalière (painter of animals) and sculptor, known for her artistic realism.
The painting was brittle, filthy, and torn.
To keep the painting from falling apart, a sheet of tissue was adhered to the front. This process is called “Facing.” The adhesive went into all of the cracks in the paint layer, and consolidated it (held it together.)
Lining the canvas: This photo shows the materials used to create a new backing for the old canvas. It is a sandwich layer of polyester mesh, Mylar and polyester canvas. A heat-set adhesive is used to bond the layers together.
One of my vacuum tables. The bottom is a heated sheet of aluminum. The top is flexible vinyl. Rosa’s painting is in position for laminating to its new backing. The facing paper can be seen on top.
With the top closed, air is evacuated and heat turned on. The vinyl top forms itself to the contours of the painting.
Once the painting is lined, it can withstand the rigors of handling, removing the facing paper and cleaning. Here, the painting is partially cleaned. The white mesh of the new backing extends beyond the painting’s margins.