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Wednesday, May 15 • 5:00pm - 5:30pm
(Paintings) The Lining of Canvas Paintings onto Aluminum Sheet Interleafs: History and Approaches for their Reversal

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From the late 1950s through the 1970s, during the heyday of wax-resin linings, many paintings on canvas in the Boston area were lined onto aluminum sheet backings. The technique, which involved adhering canvas paintings directly onto aluminum sheets cut to the dimensions of the image, was meant to provide a rigid yet lightweight support for pictures. Wax-resin was the adhesive of choice and the aluminum sheet typically formed an interleaf between the original canvas on the front and a linen canvas backing adhered to the reverse of the aluminum. The linen backing not only provided a tacking margin for re-stretching but also disguised the reverse of the metal surface. Morton Bradley and Gustav Klimann, two paintings conservators in private practice who treated paintings for prominent art museums and private clients, were chief proponents of the technique. Bradley described the process in his 1950 publication and Klimann took out two U.S. Patents in the early 1960s that included the mounting of paintings onto aluminum sheets as a method of conserving and restoring oil paintings. Although the technique was used to provide a rigid support for unstable and badly damaged paintings, paintings without any structural damage or instability were also subjected to the process. The linings, which were carried out under high pressure and heat, not only imparted a place-matt like appearance to the paintings, but often altered the paint surface topography resulting in flattening of the brush marks and impasto. Furthermore, like any wax-resin lining, paintings that were thinly painted or light in tonality were significantly darkened by the wax-resin lining. This paper will also focus on considerations and treatment approaches for reversing aluminum interleaf linings which have been carried out by the authors for both structural and aesthetic reasons. Works by 20th C. artists Hyman Bloom, Florine Stettheimer and Morton Schamberg have had their aluminum backings successfully removed and demonstrate the efficacy of undertaking the procedure when necessary and appropriate. In some instances, the detachment of the canvas from the aluminum interleaf due to the poor adhesive properties of the wax-resin resulted in unsightly bulges in the paint surface. In others, poor adhesion between the aluminum sheet and linen backing raised fears of the aluminum sheet, along with the painting, falling away from the linen backing. The reversal procedures have varied according to the painting's scale, the thickness of the canvas and paint layers, and the adhesive strength of the wax-resin adhesive. Heat has been used to facilitate the removal of the aluminum sheet on some paintings, while in others, simply pulling the aluminum sheet from the back has also been effective. While larger sized pictures have required relining, in one instance, after thorough removal of excess wax-resin from the front and back of the canvas, it was possible to strip line and loose line the painting thereby returning it to a more authentic state and appearance.

avatar for Courtney Books

Courtney Books

Mellon Fellow in Paintings Conservation, Balboa Art Conservation Center
Courtney Books is an emerging art conservator specializing in the conservation of easel paintings and murals. She received her M.A.C from Queen’s University (2018) and holds an M.A. in Art History from McGill University (2013). Currently a Mellon fellow at the Balboa Art Conservation... Read More →

avatar for Corrine Long

Corrine Long

M.A.C. 2020 student, Queen's University
Corrine Long received her Bachelor or Arts in Art History and Studio Art from the University of New Hampshire in 2012. She held a two-year internship with Gianfranco Pocobene Studio from 2013-2015 before working as a decorative paintings restorer at John Canning Studios where she... Read More →
avatar for Gianfranco Pocobene

Gianfranco Pocobene

Principal, Gianfranco Pocobene Studio
Gianfranco Pocobene is the Principal of Gianfranco Pocobene Studio specializing in the treatment of easel paintings and murals. He is also the Chief Paintings and Research Conservator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. From 2004 - 2018 he was the museum's John L. and Susan K... Read More →

Wednesday May 15, 2019 5:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Salon B2, Uncas Ballroom
  Specialty Session, Paintings
  • Track Paintings
  • Ticketed Included in Main Registration
  • Authors in Publication Order Gianfranco Poocbene, Courtney Books, Corrine Long
  • Abstract ID 19110
  • Tags Aluminum sheet interleaf wax resin lining reversal