Projects at the Gallery

A new conservation technology for the lining of Danish Golden Age Paintings (PhD-project)

The painter's choice of materials contributes to the preservation state 200 years later. More or less oil in the ground can for instance be decisive for whether a paint layer cracks and falls off. Also things like storage, climate conditions and previous conservation treatments are important to the preservation of paintings. The project therefore involves studies of the Danish painting techniques in the nineteenth century, a survey of previous conservation reports and mechanical testing of models of paintings. The work will supplement our knowledge on how different materials and methods for conservation work, when applied on oil paintings on canvas from the nineteenth century

PhD project, Cecil Krarup Andersen

The objective of the project is to analyze the mechanical, preservational and aesthetic consequences of lining in Danish Golden Age paintings. The project is carried out in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Fine Art, School of Conservation in Copenhagen and the basis for the study will be the collection of 19th century oil paintings on canvas at the National Gallery of Denmark

As a conservation method, by which a painting is reinforced with an extra canvas glued to the back of the original canvas, lining has a long history. Over the years a number of arguments have been given for the use of different lining methods and materials. The current methods are based on evidence from mechanical tests and the study of various strata in the aged paintings. The point of departure is a theory to the effect that the lining should physically be the most rigid element in the ‘sandwich’ of the painting (lining, original canvas, paint layer) in order to prevent cracking of the paint.

The current techniques for lining will be examined with a view to the material characteristics of the Danish Golden Age paintings. An international perspective arises from fact that Danish 19th century paintings technique to some extent corresponds to the contemporary foreign schools. Knowledge of this is a decisive factor in the choice of method and materials for the lining.

The study will examine in practice the above-mentioned theory that the lining should constitute the mechanically most rigid element, i.e. with a minimal propensity for dimensional changes when subjected to mechanical tension. Aged oil paint cracks at even low strain, a fact which increases the demands on the mechanical properties of lining materials.

The project will be divided into three phases, the first being a technical study of paintings from the Danish Golden Age and a characterization of their damages. Structural treatments of the paintings in the past and their consequences will be included. The second phase will be an investigation of linings, broadly speaking, and their effect on the mechanical properties of a painting. This will be analyzed by tensile testing. The last phase will the processing of the compiled data to obtain an insight into the effect of linings on paintings of the Danish Golden Age. In addition, a conclusion should be drawn on how to optimize the treatments.

The project has thus an interdisciplinary approach to secure adequate results. Aesthetic and technical studies are combined with mechanical testing and analysis of different lining techniques and their effect on paintings

Involved institutions
The Conservation School, Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, main supervisor: Senior lecturer Beate Federspiel, project supervisor: Mikkel Scharff.
Statens Museum for Kunst, Co-supervisor: Head of Conservation Dr. Jørgen Wadum.
The Smithsonian Institution´s Museum Conservation Institute, Washington, Co-supervisor: Senior Research Scientist Dr. Marion F. Mecklenburg.

Updated: 7.jul.2014
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