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Zits in Madam X's Scalp.

dencaldencal -
edited January 2016 in General Discussion

This is a 50 minute lecture on conservation and restoration techniques at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Useful for showing all of the machines and instruments.

I DO NOT RECOMMEND viewing as the lecturers have pretty poor presentation skills. Typical of some lecturers who work hard at making boring material an art form.

Anyway, about 3/4 through (36.5 mins) they show a slide of Madam X, ...well, her ear and hair. It shows white dots in the hair. The analysis shows that the lead whites in the underlayers have combined with the fatty acids in the linseed oil to produce an eruptive, swelling blister, cracking the dark surface and showing as a white dot.
This problem is also a conservation issue with Rembrandt's portraits. Given the common, combination of lead white and linseed I expect it is, or will become a global problem.



  • Interesting talk Denis.  For me, this talk drives home the point of how important it is that we do our part as artists and become knowledgeable about the materials we use so that our paintings will be able to survive after they have left our control. I think that we should aim for archival quality at the very least. Just saying.
  • Summer

    Agree, but who knew? Just in the last five years zinc white was found (Smithsonian) to be problematic because it absorbs moisture from the air and eventually delaminates. How can we fortell the interaction between the periodic table of chemicals in paint and the zoo of organic compounds in paints and mediums? Anything beyond charcoal on a cave wall is a bit of a gamble.


  • SummerSummer -
    edited January 2016
    Denis  True.  Some information that we require simply hasn't been established yet.  I, personally, spend an inordinate amount of time making sure the materials I use at least pass the consensus of opinion by the experts and my peers.  But even with that, I will always have doubts.  Researching clove oil is a case in point.  After looking into it more thoroughly, I decided that Mark's 30+ years experience with this oil and that it is a good oil to use to extend the drying time of oil paints is more trustworthy than the Natural Pigments statement that it will cause paintings to turn black given enough light and time.  It comes down to which information is correct.  All we can do is be on the lookout for updated information in the future--like the talk you posted on this forum.  Thanks.  Summer  
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