Tuesday, 12 July 2011

How NOT to treat your paintings

The BBC needs a conservator. Will some one please help them?

I came to this candid conclusion after watching episode 4 of Fake or Fortune, a BBC series where "journalist Fiona Bruce teams up with art expert Philip Mould to investigate mysteries behind paintings". Episode 4 focusses on a painting up for auction in South Africa - the painting is suspected of having been looted/stolen during WW2 and the series'  presenters think it could be a Rembrandt...  How exciting. 

Well, it was not very exciting  to see the art expert initiating the journalist on the wonders of using cotton wool to apply white spirit on the painted surface so as to enhance the details of the painting for a few seconds. When the journalist shows hesitation (well done, Fiona, you were right, you should not do that!) the art expert 'expertly' explains that it is okay, as "it is not acetone" and therefore, according to him, it will not damage the varnish.

How does he know? Has he tested the varnish? Has he tested the paint layers underneath? Let's hope he did because the same action was repeated  various other times during the programme. I can't help but wonder whether they really had to teach a lesson on how NOT to treat any painting, let alone one suspected to be a Rembrandt.

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