A fine art restorer is responsible for repairing damages done to artwork such as paintings, murals, sculptures, ceramics, textiles, paper works, books, and other cultural objects or historical artifacts.
Art dealer, author, and BBC presenter Philip Mould makes the painstaking process of art restoration look easy with his hypnotic set of Twitter videos documenting the restoration of a 17th-century painting. Working with quick precision, it’s magical to watch as he wipes away centuries of dirt and grime, revealing the gleaming oil paint beneath the yellowed surface.
We don’t know much about the painting itself, other than it’s from 1618 and that the mysterious “lady in red” was 36-years-old at the time of the portrait. In the video clips, Mould is stripping the protective varnish that is applied to shield paintings from wear, but that often yellows over time. This particular painting’s varnish dates back 200 years. And while it’s not uncommon for restorers to strip and reseal paintings to return them to their original colors.
Our late-Tudor panel portrait, dating to the 1590s, photographed by Simon Bevan @sibev).The subject of this portrait is at present unknown, although a clue to his identity can be found in the top left corner of the panel in the form of a symbolic device or badge, which shows two shells with droplets of water falling onto a comb beneath. These visual devices were occasionally employed by the artist or patron of a portrait during the Elizabethan period, and sometimes act as a jovial visual pun on the name of the sitter’s family. It is also possible – although perhaps unlikely due to fierce anti-Catholic sentiment at this period – that the shells represent a religious meaning. The scallop shell was often worn as a visual indicator of having undertaken the Camino de Santiago – a long-established route of pilgrimage to the burial site of the apostle St. James the Greater in Galicia. Oil on panel; 19 x 15 1/8 in (48.3 x 38.4 cm).