Yellowed Varnish on Traditional Landscape

Colorful Landscape 30×36

Some paintings hang in the same place for decades and people don’t notice them getting dirty. Then one day they think to themselves, “hmm..this painting doesn’t seem as vibrant as it used to be”. Often this is really the result of the varnish turning yellow or brown.

Actually, a quality varnish plays an important part in protecting your painting as long as it’s applied at the correct time. Varnish should be applied to a painting after it has dried completely. With some oil paintings this can take up to a year, depending on the thickness of the paint layer. But it’s always a good idea to wait a month or so. By varnishing too soon, the artist runs the risk of having the varnish sink in or mix with the paint.

On a properly varnished painting, it is the varnish and not the paint that takes the brunt of abuse from the elements. When a restorer cleans a painting, they are really using a solution to carefully remove the varnish. as soon as the cleaning reaches the layer of paint, as stop-action solution is applied to neutralize the cleaning solution. The ability to clean a painting successfully is often dependent on when and what type of varnish was applied.

The varnish on this traditional landscape severely yellowed over time, likely from being in a house with a smoker. Our conservator was able to achieve excellent results with this cleaning as you can clearly see…no pun intended.

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Renjeau Galleries

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