Portrait of ‘young’ Sir George Booth, 1st Baron Delamer (1622-1684), by circle of Sir Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723), at Dunham Massey, photographed following conservation. ©National Trust Images/Matthew Hollow
In June 2012 we managed to buy this portrait of ‘Young’ Sir George Booth, 1st Baron Delamer of Dunham Massey (as I reported at the time). It was sent to London-based conservator Sophie Reddington for treatment and Sophie has just sent me these images of the work.
The portrait before conservation. ©Christie’s
The picture was quite dusty and dirty and even had some white splash marks which appeared to be emulsion wall paint. At some point it had also been relined using too much heat, causing the paint to melt in places.
The portrait midway during varnish removal. ©Sophie Reddington
Sophie cleaned the painting with deionised water and then removed several layers of discoloured varnish with various solvents. Old retouching and overpainting was removed, again with solvents and also mechanically with a scalpel.
Lord Delamer’s sleeve during varnish removal. ©Sophie Reddington
Then Sophie refilled the small paint losses with acrylic putty, applied a first coat of new varnish and added new retouchings, followed by a final coat of varnish sprayed on in several thin layers.
The portrait after the filling in of the losses and the application of the first coat of varnish, but before retouching. ©Sophie Reddington
Where the canvas had become brittle and torn around the sides and the back of the stretcher Sophie mended it with nylon gossamer impregnated with adhesive.
Fragile and brittle tacking edges before treatment. ©Sophie Reddington
Sophie also treated the frame, consolidating loose parts, retouching damaged areas with watercolours and bronze paint, lining the rebate with paper tape and felt and reinserting the picture.
The same tacking edges after treatment. ©Sophie Reddington
On the back of the frame there is a label of James Bourlet and Sons, London frame makers, as well as the more recent Christie’s label.
Labels old and new on the back of the frame. ©Sophie Reddington
All this has vastly improved the readability of the image and given it a new lease of life.