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Subject: Questionnaire on retouching

Questionnaire on retouching

From: Lisette Vos <lisette.vos<-a>
Date: Wednesday, March 19, 2008
    **** Moderator's comments: Please respond directly to the

Questionnaire for paintings conservators

I am a Master student Paintings Conservation, University of
Amsterdam. My main thesis advisor is Maartje Stols-Witlox

This questionnaire is part of thesis research for the Master in
Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage at the University
of Amsterdam. The research aims to identify problems in retouching
and, subsequently, formulating solutions for those problems. My
interest in this subject has arisen from certain remarks made by
conservators in the field about the difficulty in retouching

The term "blacks" in this case does not merely signify a paint
consisting solely out of black pigment particles, but also includes
areas in which a black appearance is the starting point. I intend to
narrow the focus of my research to retouching "blacks" in
seventeenth century paintings. In the questionnaire I refer to such
dark or blackish areas as "blacks", but please keep in mind that I
use the term in a wider sense that may include dark areas with a
pigment composition not necessarily containing black pigments.

The questionnaire is built up from general to specific questions and
I would like to emphasise that explanation and additions are very
welcome. Your answers to the questions can be added to the document.
If you have any questions or suggestions, I gladly refer you to my
email address: lisette.vos<-a t->gmail< . >com. This email address should also
be used to send in the completed questionnaire. If you prefer to use
a paper version of the list, then it can be sent to:

    Ateliergebouw, UVA Schilderijenrestauratie
    t.a.v. Maartje Stols-Witlox
    Hobbemastraat 22
    1071 ZC

This questionnaire will be sent to several national and
international museum conservation studios, in addition to several
private paintings conservators and conservators employed in research
and training institutes. Filling it out will take approximately 30


Name paintings conservator:


1.  How do you value, on a scale from 1 to 10, the difficulty of
    retouching "blacks" in relation to other colour areas? 1 equals
    very easy and 10 equals very difficult.

2.  Do you always / often / sometimes / hardly ever encounter
    problems when retouching "blacks"?

Case study

    When answering the next two questions please keep in mind one or
    more case studies where you retouched "blackish" or dark areas.
    Please select your example(s) from seventeenth century
    paintings, as my research is focused in this era. If you have
    more than one example please answer questions 3 and 4 separately
    for each example. If possible, please mention the artist, the
    title of the painting and the institute/collection where it is
    housed. Please, if permitted, include an image of the painting
    and/or a detail of the "black" area. If I intend to include
    images of your "case" in my thesis, I will contact you to ask
    formal permission.

3.  Which of the below variables played the most significant role in
    your retouching problem? Please mark the most suitable word
    behind the variables. You also can use a scale to grade the
    mentioned variables, whereby 1 stands for the most relevant
    variable. A combination of the variables mentioned below is
    also, of course, possible. If there are any variables that you
    feel to be of importance that are not included in the list,
    please add them below.

    Pigment composition:    high / mediocre / minor / no relevance
    Pigment concentration:  high / mediocre / minor / no relevance
    Surface roughness:      high / mediocre / minor / no relevance
    Binder:                 high / mediocre / minor / no relevance
    Colour:                 high / mediocre / minor / no relevance
    Gloss:                  high / mediocre / minor / no relevance
    Translucency:           high / mediocre / minor / no relevance

Explanation to why certain variables played a significant role:

4.  What was the pigment composition of the original "black" area in
    the painting and what was the paint layer build up of that area
    in your example(s)? Please indicate, if permitted, the specific
    section of the painting on an image and if cross-sections were
    taken, please give a hypothetical layer build up.

Materials and methods

5.  Which materials do you normally utilize when retouching in
    Traditional retouching media (e.g. gouache, watercolours etc.):
    Pigment systems: commercially prepared / studio prepared:
    Pigment binding media:

6.  The choice of varnish will also play a role in the finished
    appearance of your retouching. Do you make use of an isolation
    and/or a final varnish?

Which materials/methods do you use for the following:

  Isolation varnish:
    Final varnish:
    Varnish application technique:

7.  Which retouching method(s) do you usually apply when making
    retouches in general (e.g. retouching is integrated
    progressively, you make use of trattegio, you strive for
    complete integration, you build up the colour in multiple layers

8.  Do you make use of different retouching materials and/or methods
    when you work without an isolation varnish or when you are
    retouching on top of the final varnish?

Case study
Materials and methods

When answering the next few questions please keep in mind your
example(s) (question 3 and 4). If you have more than one example
please answer separately for each example.

9.  Do you use different materials in the case of retouching in a
    "black" area? If so, how do they differ? Which retouching
    materials did you use in your example(s)? Please also specify
    the pigments you used.

10. Do you use different retouching methods in the case of
    retouching in a "black" area? If so, how do they differ? Which
    retouching method did you use in your example(s)? Describe or
    draw the layer build up of the retouching area. You can use a
    simulated cross-section diagram if necessary.

11. What was the composition of the isolation and/or final varnish
    and which varnish application technique did you use in your

12. Are there any retouching materials and/or methods that you have
    never tried before, but would like to try perhaps, because you
    have read and/or heard about them? If so, please describe these:


13. Do you have any suggestions or remarks which may be of
    importance to this subject?

Please keep a record of my email address <lisette.vos<-a t->gmail< . >com  in
case you have any future additions .

Are you interested in receiving the chapter in which your comments
will be used, after the completion of this thesis?

At which (email) address would you like to receive the chapter?

Thank you very much for your effort,

Lisette Vos

                  Conservation DistList Instance 21:50
                 Distributed: Wednesday, March 26, 2008
                       Message Id: cdl-21-50-021
Received on Wednesday, 19 March, 2008

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