On Monday, art dealer and BBC television host Philip Mould posted an extremely satisfying video of a 17th-century oil painting’s almost instant restoration.
The clip shows a restoration expert carefully removing centuries of grime and dirt off the artwork, revealing its original state with just a few circular brushstrokes.
“A remarkable Jacobean re-emergence after 200 years of yellowing varnish … what a transformation!” the tweet’s caption read.
Much like furniture, fine art too is covered in varnish to give it a protective layer against damage and dirt, as well help preserve the item for many years. The caveat is that varnish discolours over time (in this case, some 200 years), covering the image with a yellowish hue.
So to make an artwork look new again, restoration professionals apply a solvent to the canvas. Mould elaborated in an interview with The Telegraph:
“A mixture of gel and solvent was created, specifically just to remove the varnish and not to damage the underlying paint,” he said. “The use of gel has developed markedly in recent years. It’s different from normal restoration, with the gel suspending the solvent and working in a more controllable way.”
An incredible example of art restoration, indeed. However, it still doesn’t hold a candle to 80-year-old artist Cecilia Jimenez’s work on a 19th-century Jesus painting: