Project facts

Duration: 2015-06-01 - 2018-05-31
Project coordinator: University of Amsterdam
Project consortium: Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (Netherlands); Tate Gallery (UK); Courtauld Institute of Art (UK); University of Pisa (Italy)
Funding bodies: JPI CH; European Commission
Subject areas: Collections, Conservation, Materials, Mediation - Education, Methods - Procedures, Paintings - Painted surfaces, Restoration, Tangible Heritage, Technologies - Scientific processes
Budget: 996.646.00€


It has been observed that the 20th and 21st-century oil paintings were presenting a range of challenging problems: formation of vulnerable surface "skins" of the medium on the paint surface, efflorescence, unpredictable water and solvent sensitivity etc. There was a lack of understanding of the nature of change in modern manufactured artists’ oil paints. It means that established empirical approaches to conservation treatments such as surface cleaning did not apply to a great number of works.

In this light, this project's aim was to make a significant impact on our understanding of the reasons behind these alarming problems by exploring several aspects of paint formulations (oil lipid fraction, pigment-medium interactions, additives);-, and case study works of art.

Those explorations have guided the development of surface cleaning systems that were more appropriate for use on the increasing numbers of unvarnished oil paintings in international and private collections.

New cleaning systems have been trialed on works of art in several internationally significant public collections.

This information has been disseminated via web platforms, seminars, conferences and a documentary for the general public.

The cleaning systems have been introduced via existing courses and workshops/seminars aimed at practising conservators and conservation students, thereby offering practical solutions to current and future conservators facing these difficult challenges.

Impacts & Results

To understand the material composition of the paints and the nature of these material changes to design specific and appropriate conservation treatments.


Banner: Les mutilés assistent aux obsèques du général Galliéni, sur la place de l'Hôtel-de-Ville (1er juin 1916) Delahaye, Ernest Jean , Peintre @CC0 Paris Musées / Musée Carnavalet