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As part of our collections care programme, several paintings have been conserved to make sure they are in the best possible condition for when they go back on display in the refurbished museum.

Here are some highlights of the conservation work done on a painting by Richard Dodd Widdas , “Diana Gripped on the Ice” (1867). Diana was Hull’s last whaler known for a disastrous in the arctic. The ship was trapped in the ice for over six months, resulting to the death of 13 of its crew including the captain John Gravill. More information on the Diana can be found here.

Before conservation treatment
After treatment

The painting was dusty and dirty with uneven and discoloured natural resin varnish. There were also several scuffs and scratches in need of attention.

The gum paper tape was carefully removed from the edge of the frame and stretcher using scalpel and de-ionised water. The fixings were loosened to remove the painting from the frame, recorded, labelled and bagged. The painting was photographed under using different angles of light sources and wavelengths. This helps to identify previous repairs, overpainting, etc. The stretcher and the
canvas were carefully cleaned using dry brush and a vacuum cleaner with suction control.

During varnish removal

Areas were painting was flaking, were consolidated using and a collagen solution and heated spatula. The back of the painting was further cleaned using a mild cleaning solution, applied with cotton swabs and the degraded varnish was removed.

Removing old lining

The old lining required replacement. Remnants of the old glue-paste adhesive were carefully removed using a scalpel before the edges of the canvas were flattened on a low suction table.

Following the brush application of two coats of isolating varnish, any paint losses were filled. Retouching of filled areas and any other minor losses was undertaken with dry pigments. A final varnish and solution was applied by brush.

During the filling stage

The frame was also cleaned and repaired. Lost carvings were reproduced using casting techniques and the new pieces were oil-gilded using 23.5ct gold leaf, toned to match the original using dilute acrylic paints

Repairing the frame