Conservator working on The Blue Boy
Conserving Canvas is an international grant initiative begun in 2018 that aims to ensure that critical conservation skills needed to care for paintings on canvas do not disappear. Below is a list of grants awarded:



The Transit of the Virgin
 
Asociación de Amigos del Museo de América
The Museo de América is providing training through the treatment of Miguel Cabrera's La Vida de la Virgen (c. 1751) series. Each depicting a scene from the life of the Virgin Mary, the nine paintings in the series represent varying levels of conservation: some have never been touched but remain in good condition, some are untreated but have structural damage, while others have received canvas lining treatments as part of restoration efforts. Because of these diverse histories, the project offers an opportunity for Spanish and Latin American paintings conservators who work with Spanish colonial collections to compare structural issues and solutions across the works. Participants will travel to the Museo de América in Madrid for training residencies during which they will work on conservation assessments and treatments, receive specialized training in structural interventions of canvas supports, and expand their professional networks. Additionally, the museum, in partnership with the Ministerio de Cultura in Peru, is organizing a five-day workshop at the Universidad Nacional Diego Quispe Tito de Cusco to introduce conservators from Central and South America to the project and expand their knowledge of traditional and alternative paste-glue linings.
Grant awarded: €160,000 (2019)

Conservators removing boarding
 
Centre de recherche et de restauration des musées de France
The Centre de recherche et de restauration des musées de France (C2MRF)—a national center for the preservation and study of the cultural heritage in French museums—is leading two workshops for mid-career conservators on French paste lining techniques. Originating in the 1700s, paste lining involves attaching a secondary canvas to a primary canvas with an organic paste composed of animal glue, flour, and additives, such as ox gall and vinegar. Although conservators turned away from paste lining in the 1980s in favor of more minimally invasive approaches, recent investigations suggest that it is both effective and safe. The workshops (one for Francophone and one for Anglophone participants), held at C2RMF's conservation studios at the Château de Versailles, will train conservators in the theoretical and practical knowledge of paste lining. Participants will prepare paste recipes and practice paste application on mock-ups. Once the participants return to their home institutions, C2RMF conservators will perform site-visits and consult on structural conservation issues related to paste-lined paintings in the collections.
Grant awarded: €100,900 (2019)

The painting, Virgin with child, Saints Ambrogio and Carlo Borromeo, by Giulio Cesare Procaccini (1615-1620)
 
Centro Conservazione e Restauro "La Venaria Reale"
Italy's Center for Conservation and Restoration in La Venaria Reale, Turin, is using Getty support to conserve Giulio Cesare Procaccini's Virgin with Child, Saints, and Angels (1615-20). The painting, which comes from the collection of the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, is a double-sided banner once used for religious ceremonies that, due to extensive damage, hasn't been on display since 1850. Today, the painting has approximately 170 tears in its canvas. The highly challenging structural treatment will serve as a training ground for a group of conservators who will practice methods such as de-lining, filling, the application of canvas inserts, tear mending, and stretching. The project will provide participants and the broader conservation field information on how older and more recent conservation treatments perform and degrade over time. The project will conclude with an online publication and didactic videos highlighting technical aspects of the conservation.
Grant awarded: €92,000 (2020)

 

Corporation of the Fine Arts Museums
François Boucher's Vertumnus and Pomona (1757) is one of the largest paintings in the European collection of the Legion of Honor, which together with the de Young Museum makes up the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. For many years, the painting served as the focal point of a large gallery devoted to 18th-century French and Italian art; however, upon the gallery's reinstallation in 2013, the painting was removed from display. The work had become increasingly compromised due to canvas distortions, a failing lining, yellowed surface varnish, and discolored retouching. A Getty grant-funded conservation treatment led by senior conservators is addressing these issues and at the same time training a group of visiting museum conservators in the development of hands-on skills for canvas repair. A related technical study is addressing long-standing questions about the painting's early history and provenance.
Grant awarded: $129,000 (2018)



Painting studio at the Royal Museums Greenwich
 
The Courtauld Institute
A Getty grant is supporting a conservation training and research project related to paintings by English landscape artist William Westall (1781-1850) in the collections of the Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG). Mid-career conservators from across the UK will participate in the structural conservation of two paintings by Westall, whose use of heat and solvent-sensitive paint poses instructive treatment challenges. Over four masterclasses, participants will become familiar with lining on a vacuum hot table and discuss important topics related to structural canvas treatments, such as the identification of lining damages and evaluating the longevity of lining treatments. The research component is focusing on the 1974 Greenwich Lining Conference hosted by RMG, a pivotal moment in the field that prompted a significant shift in the practice of lining and sparked the use of new techniques. Materials at the RMG and the Courtauld and oral histories related to the 1974 conference and RMG's substantial body of post-conference treatments will be analyzed and shared both online and at the 2019 Conserving Canvas conference at Yale University.
Grant awarded: £66,300 (2019)


abstract modern painting
 
Dallas Museum of Art
A grant to the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) is providing training in tear mending through the conservation treatment of María Luisa Pacheco's Stoic Figure (1959). Tear mending is an advanced conservation technique that involves the painstaking weaving of individual threads of the canvas to repair gashes. Pacheco's painting had a significant tear in the canvas when it entered the DMA's collection 60 years ago and has thus remained in storage. The treatment project will allow the museum to put the painting on public view for the first time. Led by the DMA's paintings conservation department and an experienced advisory team, the treatment includes two training residencies for mid-career conservators and a two-day regional workshop for Texas-based conservators.
Grant awarded: $81,000 (2019)





Isfahan III by Frank Stella
 
Fundación Arte y Solidaridad
Fundación Arte y Solidaridad is a non-profit foundation that supports the Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende (MSSA). Located in Santiago, Chile, MSSA holds one of the most important modern and contemporary art collections in Latin America. A Getty grant is supporting training and treatment related to Frank Stella's Isfahan III (1968) —a large, irregularly shaped painting (from the artist's "Protractor Series") donated by Stella to the museum in 1972. During Chile's military coup d'état in 1973, the painting was hidden, its complex stretcher disassembled and the canvas folded several times over. It was eventually returned to a replacement stretcher, which has now warped and is unable to provide the proper tension needed for such an intricately shaped canvas. MSSA conservators and other professionals from South America will attend a workshop on the history and techniques of stretching canvases, and learn a technique for minimal spring-loaded tension. International experts will consult on structural treatment options for utilizing the low spring-tension technique, with treatment-based training sessions culminating in the structural stabilization of Isfahan III. At the project's conclusion, team members will travel to New York to interview Stella about the work's history.
Grant awarded: $210,000 (2019)


The Blue Boy at the Huntington Library
 
Henry E. Huntington Library & Art Gallery
Thomas Gainsborough's The Blue Boy is among the most famous paintings in the Huntington's collection, having been on display for nearly 100 years without interruption. Despite the best of care, conservation treatment is now necessary to address lifting and flaking paint, the separation of the canvas from its support lining, and the accrual of layers of varnish on the painting's surface. A Getty grant is allowing the Huntington to bring together highly respected conservation experts of 18th-century British canvas paintings in order to determine a treatment plan for re-lining the painting—a process that involves adding a new secondary canvas support to the original material. A cohort of conservators is gaining valuable experience by participating in the decision-making process and structural intervention of this highly significant and celebrated canvas painting. During the year-long conservation treatment, The Blue Boy is remaining mostly on public view in order to educate audiences about the field of preservation.
Grant awarded: $150,000 (2018)





William Hall at Winterthur Museum
 
Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Inc.
Painted by the Bristol-born artist William Williams in 1766, the portraits of William Hall, Deborah Hall, and David Hall (the children of David Hall Sr., printing partner to Benjamin Franklin) are considered among the most finest portraits made in North America during the Colonial Era. A Getty grant is supporting training and treatment related to the conservation of these works, all of which are deteriorating due to failing wax-lining. The Brooklyn Museum, which houses Deborah Hall, and Winterthur, which holds the brothers' portraits, are coordinating the structural treatments and will share learnings during the conservation process. Following a week-long seminar on the aesthetic impact of wax-resin lining, early-career conservators from each institution will receive training in wax-resin lining removal and regeneration (the use of low heat to reactivate the remains of previous lining adhesives), spending one month at the other's museum. By the end of the project, the conservators will have gained experience in a variety of techniques including consolidation, lining reversal, hot vacuum table operation, and re-stretching. The museums are planning public lectures, conference presentations, and peer reviewed publications to disseminate results.
Grant awarded: $132,000 (2019)


Conservation experts examining Emperor Justinian
 
John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art Foundation
Emperor Justinian (1886), an extraordinarily large oil-on-canvas painting (13 x 22 ft.), is considered to be one of French Orientalist painter Jean Joseph Benjamin Constant's most important works. Acquired in 1929, the painting has since been rolled-up due to its embrittled canvas, tears and gashes, and failing patch repairs. A Getty-funded project will train conservators from The Ringling, Artcare Miami (where the conservation treatment will take place), and other institutions (all of which have Constant paintings in their collections) in a range of structural treatment procedures applicable to large paintings on canvas. They will practice the safe unrolling of the canvas, removal of the facing tissue, tear repair, and the re-weaving of several holes, all of which are critical skills. They will assess whether lining is needed and decide on the most appropriate conservation method. Once conserved, Emperor Justinian will be prominently displayed in The Ringling's main gallery as part of an ambitious reinstallation of the museum's painting galleries. Various workshops, lectures, and blog posts will disseminate results.
Grant awarded: $176,800 (2019)


The Green Stripe by Mark Rothko
 
Menil Foundation, Inc.
As part of this grant project, mid-career conservators from the Menil, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and four other institutions will receive training in the reversal of wax-resin lining treatments. Once popular for maintaining a painting's structural integrity, wax-resin linings are now considered damaging, especially for modern art; among other things, they can cause discoloration of paint surfaces and leave burn marks. The conservators will perform wax-resin lining reversals on two works from the Menil Collection: Mark Rothko's The Green Stripe (1955), which has been off-view for nearly 20 years, and Georges Braque's Large Interior with Palette (1942), which suffered from an intrusive wax-lining in 1964. A third twentieth-century painting from the MFAH will receive treatment. The Menil is partnering with the MFAH on the project because of their mutual strength in modern and contemporary art and the importance of training conservators on the adverse effects of wax-resin lining on modern paintings.
Grant awarded: $114,800 (2019)


Orange and Black Wall by Franz Kline
 
Museum of Fine Arts Houston
A grant to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) is enabling experts to use the conservation treatment of a 12-foot canvas painting by Franz Kline as a training opportunity for mid-career conservators. The painting, Orange and Black Wall (1959), is one of Kline's earliest experiments with adding color to his signature black and white compositions. The treatment project is addressing structural problems that have caused the paint to detach from the canvas and flake off. Organizers from MFAH are welcoming US-based and international conservators to observe and participate in the decision-making processes involved in stabilizing the painting for the future.
Grant awarded: $132,000 (2019)


National Gallery of Ireland, Painting Conservation studio
 
National Gallery of Ireland
A Getty grant is supporting training and structural treatments related to two collages by Juan Gris and one painting by Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri) in the collections of the National Gallery of Ireland. While the collages are now catalogued as two separate works, they were once joined together: Gris had started then abandoned Carafe, Cups and Glasses before using the work's reverse as a painting support for A Guitar, Glasses and a Bottle. In the 1960s, conservators separated the two paintings and relined them individually, potentially causing further harm to the already damaged canvases. In contrast, Guercino's Saint Joseph with the Christ Child (c.1637) was lined with traditional paste glue lining. But because of its oval shape and the tension-induced buckling of the canvas, it needs to be relined and supported by a new, custom-designed stretcher. Intensive year-long fellowships will allow three conservators to be trained in all aspects of the conservation treatment, ranging from testing potential structural solutions with mock-ups to the final conservation of the paintings. Additionally, the National Gallery will host a workshop for conservators using the works by Gris and Guercino as case studies.
Grant awarded: €183,000 (2019)


 
Statens Historiska Museer
Sweden's National Historical Museums is organizing a two-week collections-based seminar to be held in 2019 for conservators and curators to study canvas paintings at Skokloster Castle in Sweden. The seminar provides a hands-on introduction to the mechanical behavior of paintings on cloth supports, the deterioration of materials such as canvas and adhesives, and the aesthetic impact of different canvas conservation treatment methods. A workshop on tear mending is offering conservators the chance to learn a newer, less invasive repair technique, while case studies involving three 17th-century paintings from the collection—including Jacob Jordaens's The Return of the Holy Family from Egypt—are promoting problem-solving skills. The Skokloster collection is especially well-suited for training exercises given its lack of climate control over the centuries; trainees can witness firsthand the effects of uncontrolled climate conditions on the collection's lined and unlined paintings and discuss possible conservation treatments.
Grant awarded: 1,130,000 kr (2018)


 
Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg
A Getty grant to Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg (SRAL) is supporting an advanced conservation workshop on mist lining, a minimally invasive technique developed to stabilize paintings on canvas. Mist lining was developed in the 1980s and involves the application of minimal amounts of adhesive, heat, and pressure to join a painting's back to a new canvas. Since mist lining is still a relatively new technique and not yet part of many conservators' 'toolkits', the advanced workshop is timely for the field. Spread over six-months, the workshop is divided into two sessions. During the first workshop, trainees are gathering to learn the basics of mist lining, particularly the properties and preparation of the adhesives and solvents. The meeting includes lectures, case studies, and demonstrations, and provides trainees with ample time to practice mist lining on pre-fabricated mock-ups. During the second session, trainees are returning to SRAL in smaller groups to apply the mist lining method to a painting either from their home institution or provided by SRAL. At the conclusion of the workshop, SRAL is assembling all teaching materials into a handbook on the mist lining method to share with participants and the broader field.
Grant awarded: €234,000 (2018)


 
The National Gallery
With Getty support, the National Gallery, London is undertaking a major conservation treatment of one of the most prominent canvas paintings in its collection, Anthony van Dyck's Equestrian Portrait of Charles I (1637-8). Since its acquisition in 1885, the monumental work—which depicts the king as the divinely chosen ruler of Great Britain—has rarely been off view. While the painting is in relatively good condition, the original canvas is too weak to hold the painting up by itself. Old tears are lifting at the edges, and a network of surface cracks (which indicate the painting has been rolled in the past) are disrupting the image. Additionally, the picture surface is somewhat rippled in certain areas due to earlier treatments. Led by National Gallery conservators, a complex conservation intervention is focused on the removal and replacement of the current lining. Visiting mid-career museum conservators are receiving training in the techniques and complex logistics of re-lining a large and fragile painting, an undertaking in which the National Gallery's conservation department has particular expertise. A culminating workshop will share the project results with a larger group of 20-30 specialists in the field.
Grant awarded: £70,800 (2018)


Universidad Nacional de General San Martín
Tarea - Instituto de Investigaciones sobre el Patrimonio Cultural is part of the Universidad Nacional de General San Martín and the leading conservation science center in Argentina. Getty grant funds are supporting training and treatment at Tarea related to the conservation of three paintings from the collection of the Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes Emilio Pettoruti in Buenos Aires. The paintings—Argentine modernist Lino Enea Spilimbergo's Figura (1935), Argentine painter Francisco Vidal's Muchachas en el baño (1932), and Spanish painter Ricardo Balaca's Colón en el puerto de Palos (1873)—all require complex structural interventions that provide training opportunities for eight conservators from institutions across South America. During the training residencies, participating conservators will work side-by-side with Tarea staff and visiting international experts to complete condition assessments and individually-tailored treatments that will deepen their knowledge of how to line paintings and safely reattach lined canvases to new stretchers.
Grant awarded: $173,000 (2020)


Wax-resin linings at the University of Amsterdam
 
Universiteit van Amsterdam
The Department of Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage at the Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA) is hosting a 10-day intensive workshop for both conservators and curators on the complexities of wax-resin lining, a method originally developed in the Netherlands. The quality and efficacy of wax-resin linings are extremely variable and dependent upon the proportion of wax and resin, the inclusion of additives, and the temperature and amount of mixture used. Once considered a premier method for stabilizing paintings, the practice is now largely abandoned; numerous museum collections around the world, however, still house wax-resin lined paintings that require further conservation treatment. Through hands-on practice and close examination of paintings from museums across the Netherlands, workshop participants will develop a tactile understanding of the technique and heighten their discernment of the aesthetic effects of compromised impasto, color-saturated paint, and imprinted secondary canvas weave pattern. The workshop will be directed by highly regarded paintings conservators and art historians from the university and the Rijksmuseum, and will serve as a pilot for a planned biennial series of workshops.
Grant awarded: €179,000 (2019)


 
University of Glasgow
A Getty grant is bringing pairs of conservators-curators to the College of Arts and The Hunterian at the University of Glasgow for training workshops related to the conservation of five canvas paintings from the Hunterian and the National Galleries of Scotland, including Sir Joshua Reynolds's Lady Maynard (c.1759-60). The workshops, which focus on the interdisciplinary involvement of both curators and conservators, are conceived around the principle that canvas conservation is part of a holistic process involving condition, aesthetics, interpretation, and presentation. Participants are researching the evolution of lining materials and techniques, and reviewing how past structural treatments affect a painting's appearance. They will also examine the visual presentation of paintings with different approaches to treatments, referencing collections at The Hunterian, National Galleries of Scotland, Glasgow Museums, and Yale University. Afterwards, participants are completing individual month-long residencies in Scotland to treat the five selected paintings.
Grant awarded: £115,000 (2018)


 
Yale University
The Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage at Yale University organized and hosted the Conserving Canvas Symposium, an international convening on the conservation of canvas paintings held October 14-17, 2019. This was the first major international gathering on the subject since 1974, allowing specialists to look back at over 45 years of practice and take stock of the current state of the field. The symposium addressed historical approaches to the structural treatment of canvas paintings; contemporary methods, materials, and research; and the challenges facing the structural conservation of modern and contemporary works. With today's professionals embracing minimal-intervention techniques and maintaining differing opinions on the efficacy of more invasive approaches, the symposium provided a necessary forum for specialists to reevaluate historical conservation protocols and consider how past and current treatment approaches set the course for the long-term stability of paintings on canvas, whether by old masters or modern artists.
Grant awarded: $212,000 (2018)

Image Header: In The Huntington's conservation lab, senior paintings conservator Christina O'Connell positions an Hi-R NEO 900 Haag-Streit microscope to study The Blue Boy. On the monitor, a magnified view of the lace on his collar is displayed. The microscope, designed for ophthalmology and hand surgery, is on loan from Haag-Streit USA for Project Blue Boy. (The photo was taken in Fall 2017 during a three-month conservation study.) The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.