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ICS Sydney - International Conservation Services

old masters

Typical problems

The typical problems we see with old masters are similar to that which we find in other oil paintings. These problems include surface dirt, mould, yellowed orOld master DT cracked varnish, flaking paint and losses. However we often find that older paintings have undergone previous restorations which may require reversal in order to return them to as close to their original condition as possible. In some cases, old restorations can have an excess of overpainting, applied to disguise damage. This overpaint can be removed to reveal the original painting beneath. As with oil and acrylic paintings, old masters can also be affected by mould, dust, dirt, smoke, soot and water.

Treatment options

The treatment we undertake on old masters depends on a variety of factors, and differs for each painting. In devising a treatment proposal for your old master, we need to consider a number of things, such as the nature of damage to the work, condition and medium of the work. Depending on the nature of damage to the work, treatment may be simple and straightforward, or it may require a more complex and detailed treatment which may take several months to complete.

Unfortunately, fading of paintings and pigments within a painting is something which we cannot reverse. As the primary cause of fading is exposure  to high levels of light, we recommend that you reduce the amount of light your painting is exposed to while on display. This will aid in reducing the effects of irreversible light damage.   


St James Anglican Church Sydney