How to Care for Original Oil Paintings

Many centuries have passed since oil paintings entered our homes. First, the prerogative of the nobles alone, then of the bourgeois, today, many have at least one representative of this form of art at home. Painting on canvas soon acquired significant importance, surpassing the classic tempera on panel. Much lighter than paintings on wooden support and more durable than those on metal, the painting on canvas made it possible to facilitate the furnishing of spaces thanks to its natural ease of placement and transport.

Caring For Your Art

The painting technique is that of oil. Thanks to its elasticity, the oil color is well suited to the movements of the canvas, aided by the preparation. This consists of a specific mixture, a binder represented by a protein glue that guarantees the amalgam elasticity once dry.

A fundamental supporting element of the painting on canvas is the frame; a wooden structure on which the canvas is fixed and well stretched. Today it is common to see extensible frames, widespread since the nineteenth century, which guarantee the correct tension of the painting.

The oil painting on canvas is resistant and fragile at the same time: it is elastic, but it can undergo permanent deformations; it is light and thin but not at all resistant to piercing objects.

What can we do in our homes to minimize the damage that some unfavorable circumstances can cause to our canvas paintings?

First of all, we will learn to recognize some symptoms in time. The classic “prevention is better than cure.”

How to examine oil paintingsĀ 

The first thing to check is that the canvas is well stretched on the frame. You need to tap the pictorial surface. If the picture will resonate even slightly, the tension will be sufficient. If on the contrary the canvas will not offer any resistance and will sway softly under our finger it will be necessary to write it down and make it known to the art restorer. Why does the canvas have to be stretched tight on the frame? Because the lack of this tension causes most of the damage that art restorers must then remedy.

3 tips for oil paintings

The first is not to put the paintings too close to heat sources, such as incandescent bulbs or radiators. The second is to let the framer leave at least 5 mm of play per side when putting a new frame on a painting on canvas. This to allow a possible expansion of the frame; the frame must never adhere to the sides of the painting. The third is to dust the paintings and their frames with the classic duvet. Do not use damp cloths, do not touch the ancient frames: the gilding is as beautiful as it is delicate.

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