Anthony's Appraisal Blog

DAMAGE TO PAINTINGS: APPRAISAL ELEMENTS

6/28/12
damage to works of art

Oil paintings on canvas have four primary components:

  1. The "canvas" which is the backing or support of the other components. Most canvas is machine-made woven fabric or material. This fabric easily absorbs moisture causing an expansion of the fabric and resulting in a loosening of the remaining elements of the painting.
  2. "Sizing" is a sealant covering the canvas. It is also subject to deterioration and separation if moist or wet.
  3. The "ground" or actual surface on which the paint is placed is generally a very thin layer of plaster. The plaster is extremely vulnerable to moisture and when wet for an extended period of time causes lifting away or flaking from its support and as it separates it takes the paint layer with it. (i.e., paint loss)
  4. The "paint" surface is generally moisture resistant, however, its life totally depends upon the "canvas", "ground", and "size" remaining free of moisture, tearing, puncture or any kind of abrasion.

Paintings on board or panel have four primary components:

  1. Board can be any type of man- made material. Some examples would be Masonite, fiber- board, cardboard, artist's board etc Most boards (excluding fabric covered artist's board) are the backing or support of the other components. These machine-made fiber materials easily absorb moisture causing an expansion of the backing support and result in a loosening of the remaining elements of the painting. "Sizing" is a sealant covering the board. It is also subject to deterioration and separation if moist or wet. Some artists do not "size" their boards.
  2. The "ground" or actual surface on which the paint is placed is generally a very thin layer of plaster. The plaster is extremely vulnerable to moisture and when wet for an extended period of time causes lifting away or flaking from its support and as it separates it takes the paint layer with it. (i.e., paint loss) Some artists paint directly on the surface of the board which then becomes more vulnerable to moisture
  3. The "paint" surface is generally moisture resistant, however, its life totally depends upon the board, ground, and sizing remaining free of moisture, tearing, puncture or any kind of abrasion.
  4. A qualified fine art appraiser has been trained to observe and describe the types and extent of the damage to paintings. He must also be able to determine the approximate cost of fine art restoration and repair. There are times when a painting has been so severely damaged so as not to be repairable; or so damaged the appraiser must assess if the cost of repair plus the loss of value of the art work thereafter would exceed the value of the art work before damage and in that case would be considered a "total loss".

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