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Lining easel paintings

Authored by: Stephen Hackney , Joan Reifsnyder , Mireille te Marvelde , Mikkel Scharff

Conservation of Easel Paintings

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367023799
eBook ISBN: 9780429399916
Adobe ISBN:


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Until the last quarter of the twentieth century, the attachment of a second canvas to reinforce a weakened original, known as lining or relining, was universal practice. However, since 1974 this practice to solve structural problems of canvas paintings has been reconsidered. A major change of opinion has occurred, reinforced by modern attitudes to conservation which place greater emphasis on preserving the original state of the canvas support and paint film. Lining practices originally developed to respond both to accidents and to the slow degradation of canvas paintings through damp and oxidation. Wherever canvas was used, lining became widespread in the form of artisanal traditions based on workshops and apprenticeships. The history of lining has been studied to some extent (Reifsnyder, 1995; Talley, 1996; Véliz, 1998a; Te Marvelde, 1998, 2001a, 2001b; Percival-Prescott, 1974/2003). Individual accounts of the treatment of paintings survive in archives, such as those from the nineteenth century at the National Gallery in London, but these are likely to record single word entries (e.g. ‘relined’), a date, and the name of the liner. It is only in the twentieth century that published material became available that sought to justify or explain the practice.

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