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Subject: Fire damage to paintings

Fire damage to paintings

From: Alan Phenix <alan.phenix>
Date: Monday, November 23, 1998
Cons DistList member Alan Phenix of the Courtauld Institute of Art,
London places the following posting on behalf of an intern from
Spain, Rocio Pena-Helguera.  Rocio is interested in gathering
information on the treatment of paintings and polychrome sculptures
that might have been damaged, either directly or indirectly, as a
consequence of fire.  Despite previous discussions in past Cons
DistLists regarding both fire in museums, historic houses etc., and
treatment of fire-damaged paintings, there seems to be very little
information in the public domain, especially on this latter issue. A
literature search has revealed only a handful of useful

Rocio is very keen, therefore, to hear from conservators who have
had direct experience of treating paintings, polychrome sculpture or
other objects that have been exposed to fire.  Alternatively, if you
know of anyone who has experience in this area, please let her know.

Specific issues that Rocio is interested in include:

    *   the specific details (title, school, artist, date, support,
        etc.) of any fire damaged paintings treated,

    *   the nature and circumstances of the fire (eg. electrical
        fire, smoke only, large scale fire etc.),

    *   whether the painting/object was removed from the scene of
        the fire and, if so, at what time in relation to the fire
        (during, after)

    *   whether the painting/object was exposed to water from
        firemen's hoses, extinguishers, sprinklers, etc.

    *   of damage sustained by paintings/objects are a particular
        interest.  In relation to the points above, Rocio would like
        to hear of the different kinds of damage/alteration
        sustained, for example:

        *   the extent of damage--front, reverse, severe, localised,
        *   surface deposits of smoke, soot?
        *   discolouration of paint, especially any pigment-specific
        *   blistering or other physical disruption of paint,
        *   burning, charring or other physical degradation of the
            paint, ground, support etc.
        *   water damage, including      canvas shrinkage and
            flaking of paint, softening or other disruption of
            ground or paint, blanching (ie. permanent whitening) of
            paint, blanching or other disruption of varnish
        *   or any other forms of deterioration.

Details of conservation methods and materials used to deal with any
of the above forms of damage are of special interest, and any
contributions would be very much appreciated.  In particular, Rocio
would like to hear about approaches to correcting and consolidating
heat-derived blisters and to dealing with discoloured paint.

Finally, any opinions would be gratefully received on what issues
should usefully be explored in research on conservation of
fire-damaged paintings.

Please send any contributions to

    Rocio Pena-Helguera
    Dept. of Conservation & Technology
    Courtauld Institute of Art
    Somerset House
    Strand, London WC2R ORN,
    rocio.pena_helguera [at] courtauld__ac__uk
    or  alan.phenix [at] courtauld__ac__uk

Alan Phenix

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:46
                 Distributed: Monday, November 23, 1998
                       Message Id: cdl-12-46-019
Received on Monday, 23 November, 1998

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