Solvent gel cleaning, consolidation and in-painting

…continued from the previous post A Case study of an oil on canvas painting

It was important to remove the old varnish from this painting because, it was very thickly applied almost every other year of its lifetime and had darkened to an extent that the actual colors of the painting were not visible.

For the first two days after initial assessment about the solubility of the varnish, we struggled with removing varnish by rolling swab-stick dipped in the solvent. This was like working on a glass-like surface (almost 1to 1.5 mm thick) and trying to slowly dissolve it away.

063 (2)


It was really hard to remove the varnish. It was taking hours to clear a small area. In the video below one can see how i started on a small area that i knew might be white under the varnish and hence would be easy to see it getting cleared. But it took much more time after i stopped the video recording. Once it was clear, i started another smaller nearby area, which again took longer than usual.

After trying the solvent based gel for different periods of time in the background areas, we slowly moved towards the central figure for varnish removal. Following video-clip summarizes the methodology we followed for removing varnish in this particular painting.

With numerous previous re-touchings, it was a cumbersome process with a lot of continuous photo-documentation. Next steps were consolidation, filling and in-panting.

In the following video, adhesive residues from previous restoration attempts are removed and then the loose paint layer is consolidated. The video next to this has a fast forward view of in-painting of the filled gaps. We somehow missed the recording of the filling process.

In the next post i would discuss the few areas in the paint layer which were totally lost and were casually re-painted. These had to be carefully studied and recreated. We found a photograph of this same portrait in one of the books on Kapurthala which was a very useful reference.


One thought on “Solvent gel cleaning, consolidation and in-painting

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.