Areas of weak paint were individually stabilized using a 1:10 gelatin adhesive. The liquid adhesive was applied warm using a small sable brush. Critically unstable areas along the cracks were further secured using diluted Jade 403 also applied with a small brush. These initial steps allowed treatment work to continue without risk of further paint loss.


The cleaning of an oil painting involves the removal of discolored surface films and all areas of non-original paint. An understanding of paint chemistry is required to remove these films without injury to the surface. This work is carried out under binocular magnification using cotton swabs and appropriate solvents.

The upper dirt film was removed using a mild pH-neutral detergent while the upper varnish was removed using organic solvents. The lower dirt and varnish films were removed similarly, although swelling of the varnish required a mixture of organic and reagent solvents due to an oil inclusion within the layer.

Varnish removal began along the right side of the painting. Oil paint becomes milky as it ages. As a result, darker tones will appear blanched or bloomed after cleaning. Later revarnishing reinstates their original richness. The below left, full-view images document the dramatic color change that resulted during cleaning; the right images offer related details. (14)

Full View During Cleaning

Detail During Cleaning

Full View During Cleaning

Detail During Cleaning

Removal of the overlaying films and earlier restoration work revealed former losses and heightened the awareness of the painting's overall condition history.

Full View After Cleaning

Detail After Cleaning


Filling has two purposes. It prevents further damage by sealing the edges of holes, tears, and cracks. It is also used to reproduce a sympathetic surface with respect to plane and texture. Areas of former loss and the vertical cracks were filled with gesso, a mixture of marble dust, and a 1:7 gelatin adhesive.

Full View After Filling

Detail After Filling

Detail After Filling

Detail After Filling


A brush coat of Winsor & Newton non-yellowing varnish was applied to the paint surfaces. Varnish is applied for several reasons. First, it reinstates the richness of the paint by allowing the darks to have their proper tone. Second, it keeps dirt and air pollution off the picture surface. Third, the surface coating protects the paint layer from damage caused by abrasion, moisture, and accidental accretions. The varnish also creates an ethical buffer between the original paint layer and the retouching or inpainting. Conservators do not paint directly on the original paint surface. The work is done on top of an isolating varnish and can be removed by simply removing the underlying varnish.


Retouching is carried out to correct visual inconsistencies caused by inherent structural problems or surface damage. Its purpose is to reduce or eliminate these inconsistencies. It is applied only to areas of loss and never extends over the original paint. (15) The retouching was completed using Maimeri conservation pigments. These pigments are both color- and light-fast, offering confidence that the restoration areas will remain consistent over time. Also, the pigments are soluble in mineral spirits. This relatively weak solvent permits safe and easy removal without risk of injury to the paint surface.

Detail Before Retouching

Detail During Retouching

July 30, 2017

After retouching, the application of a final, non-yellowing spray varnish completed the four-month treatment.

Federico Barocci "Apollo and Venus"
Before Treatment

Federico Barocci "Apollo and Venus"
After Treatment

While the conservation work on the painting was at an end, other questions remained. During cleaning, a series of perplexing, partially hidden letters were discovered in the bottom area of the painting. Would it be possible to decipher the original text? The following page documents the efforts used to pursue this question.

Page 7--The Letters/Second Discovery

Page 1--Introduction,   Page 2--History of Hoyt Sherman Place,   Page 3--Adopt a Painting/First Discovery,
Page 4--Provenance,  Page 5--Examination,   Page 6--Treatment,   Page 7--The Letters/Second Discovery,
Page 8--Attribution/Third Discovery, Page 9--Ut Pictura Poesis, Page 10--Final Thoughts/PBS Video


14. References for consolidation, cleaning, varnishing, and retouching from the author's 2005 Case Study, "A 1938 Portrait of Adolf Hitler."
15. Filling, varnishing, and retouching purposes from Morton C. Bradley, The Treatment of Pictures. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cosmos Press, 1950).



Barry Bauman Conservation
Contact: Mr. Barry Bauman
1122 N. Jackson Ave., River Forest, IL. 60305
Ph.(708)771-0382  Fax.(708)771-1532