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Chinese Scroll Painting Restoration

Chinese Painting Expert's Advice

Our Chinese Art Specialist is frequently asked to give advice on the restoration of damaged Chinese paintings, including scroll paintings on silk and paper. We are often asked for advice on climate control, mending tears, consolidating flaking paint, etc. Such requests are likely to continue to be common. It is hoped that this webpage can help Chinese art owners understand typical conditions of their damaged Chinese paintings and see how these works may be examined and restored by a professional conservator.

Important advice: DO NOT restore your damaged Chinese silk/paper painting unless it is urgent and necessary. If the painting is not in a severely deteriorated or damaged condition, do not restore it. The restoration of a precious Chinese painting can be very risky if the restorer does not follow the traditional methods for restoring Chinese scroll paintngs . A proper restoration of a Chinese paintings on silk or paper requires not only a Chinese painting mounting specialist with superb skills but also an in-depth knowledge of traditional Chinese painting styles, aesthetics and techniques. The specialist should have a general knowledge of what techniques and media should be adopted in repairing an antique Chinese painting, and he or she needs to think through the process and be aware of possible consequences. The truth is that not every mounting specialist is capable of restoring an old Chinese scroll painting on silk or paper, so you should proceed cautiously before commissioning a repair.

The Following Procedure is a standard practice in commissioning a restoration specialist:
1. Find a Chinese painting specialist to identify the problem with your Chinese art object, and ask the specialist for professional advice on how to find a qualified Chinese painting conservator or restorer.
2. Discuss with the restoration specialist the nature of the damage and how he or she proposes to repair the damage.
3. Before you commit yourself to the restoration project, ask to see samples of their restoration work, showing conditions before and after the restoration.
4. Visit the restoration workshop if possible and talk with the specific Chinese painting conservator assigned to your job. If you are satisfied with the explanation of the procedure and the professional manner of the individual, then commit yourself to the project.
5. Take pictures of your painting before sending it to the conservation lab as visual evidence. Make sure you have close-ups of the damaged areas and surrounding regions in case problems develop later.

Avoid Harmful Conditions for Your Chinese Painting

Most artwork is susceptible to deterioration from light, humidity, temperature, insects, dust, salt and vibration as well as the dents, knocks, chips and tears that come from contact with human beings.

Light: Keep your Chinese scroll painting, which is light-sensitive, out of direct sunlight and reduce artificial lighting where possible.
Humidity: Keep your Chinese silk and paper paintings in humidity between 40% and 60%. Avoid fluctuating changes in humidity to reduce the possibility of mold and insect damage.
Temperature: Avoid extremes of temperature change in the space where your artwork is presented.
Dust:  Keep artwork free of dust. Dust the surface of Chinese paintings on silk or rice paper with a soft cloth or feather if necessary.
Salt in the air encourages corrosion. Use air conditioning to reduce this danger.
Vibration: Avoid transporting Chinese scroll paintings without compensating for vibration by careful packing and support.
Contact with human beings:  Avoid touching the surface of a Chinese scroll painting with the hands, which will speed the color deterioration.
Presentation and Storage: Hang the painting on interior walls rather than exterior walls, and place it on a flat, clean, dry and pest-free surface if not hanging.

Recommended Chinese Painting Restoration Labs

http://www.asianartrestoration.com/ specializes in the care and conservation of Asian scroll paintings.
http://www.umma.umich.edu/collections/conservation_lab/eastasian.html  The Asian Painting Conservation Lab is among the great resources at UMMA, one of the best restoration facilities in the United States.
http://www.explorasia.org/visitor/dcsrEastasian.htm  The East Asian Painting Conservation Studio is devoted to the conservation of East Asian paintings with traditional methods.
http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/the_museum/departments/conservation,_doc_science.aspx.  The British Museum has an extensive and highly proficient conservation department, primarily concerned with conservation of Asian art antiquities.
http://www.clevelandart.org/exhibcef/consexhib/html_kiosk/a2staff.html  The Cleveland Museum of Art offers professional conservation services. Treatments are undertaken to stabilize objects and to recover aesthetic integrity as much as possible.
http://www.nationalmuseum.cn/en/survey/introduction/index.jsp  The National Museum of China has a professional team and first-class equipment for conservation and repair of antiquities.
http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/aboutus/conservation  The Art Gallery of New South Wales employs one dozen people specializing in different areas of art conservation. It is recognized as a center of excellence.
http://www.getty.edu/conservation/  The Museum's four conservation departments - Antiquities, Paintings, Decorative Arts and Sculpture, and Paper - play a vital role in its efforts to exhibit and interpret its collections.


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