Module Identifier MG30210  
Academic Year 2006/2007  
Co-ordinator Mr Robert K Meyrick  
Semester Semester 2  
Other staff Guest Practitioner  
Pre-Requisite MG10120 , MG20210 , MG20410 , MG20110  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Project of 2500 words  50%
Semester Assessment Mock up mediaeval panel painting  25%
Semester Assessment Mock up 16th or 17th oil painting on canvas  25%

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
1. appreciate the importance of monitoring sensitive and vulnerable material
2. discuss issues specifically related to the conservation of oil paintings and works of art on paper
3. describe the procedures for the scientific examination of paintings
4. identify and evaluate the basic processes and materials used in the manufacture and production of easel paintings
5. be able to photograph, document and describe the various stages of conservation to provide subsequent conservators with a record of objects and its conservation history
6. have an insight into the cleaning and treatment of paintings, stretchers and frames
7. articulate ideas about the role of the easel painting conservator
8. identify possible hazards and the risks to easel paintings
9. make informed choices when choosing a conservator

Relation to Assessment:
Mock-up medieaval panel painting (4,5), mock up 16th or 17th oil painting on canvas (4,5), Project (2,3,4,5,7,8)
The Project is designed to identify the students' level of comprehension, theoretical understanding and issues surrounding conservation, restoration, and the role of the conservator in museum work. The Mock-up allows the opportunity to demonstrate and assess the skills learned as well as application of the methods and materials used in picture making.

Brief description

The module aims to provide an understanding of the materials used and techniques employed in easel painting conservation. It explains the history and use of conservation materials and the relationship between materials and art history. The history of artists? materials (including pigments, grounds, media, supports, varnish etc) is also explored, alongside the science of pigments, painting techniques (egg, oil, fresco, water colour, and synthetic materials), the history of supports and stretchers, the modern manufacture of artists materials, and conservation framing. The history and conservation studio practice are explained; in the practical sessions students will have the opportunity to mock up a mediaeval panel painting which includes gesso and gilding, and to mock up a 16th or 17th oil painting on canvas.


1. to explain and demonstrate the techniques and materials used in the conservation of easel paintings
2. to explore the changes in convention and attitude towards conservation and restoration with the passing of time
3. to demonstrate the techniques and materials of mediaeval panel painting and 17th oil painting on canvas and provide the opportunity for students to explore the techniques for themselves
4. to appreciate the history of artists? materials (pigments, grounds, media, supports, varnish etc) and how these have determined painting techniques
5. to introduce the history of supports and stretchers and conservation framing.
6. to examine issues that surround the preservation and conservation of oil paintings


Conservation Materials: History and Use
The Scientific Examination of Objects: U-V Fluorescence, Paint Cross-sections, and Photomicrography
Identification of Materials: Pigments, Media, Timber, Textile, Fibres, etc Dendrochronology and X-Radiography
Absorption and Emission Spectroscopy: I-R and U-V Spectrophotometry
Microscopy, including Surface Microscopy and the Electron Microscope, and Chromotography
Documentation and Photography
The Conservation of Paintings: Demonstrations of Conservation Operations
Lining and the Treatment of Supports: Fungicides and Insecticides
Cleaning of Paintings and Solvent Action
Consolidation of Paint and Ground Layers
Retouching and Varnishes

Transferable skills

1 Independent project work
Two Mock up Paintings
2 IT and information handling
Word processing
3 Use and analysis of numerical information
4 Writing in an academic context
5 Oral discussion and presentation
Group activities in workshops
6 Careers need awareness
The module is specifically for students considering a career in museums, art gallery administration, public art organisations, freelance curators and exhibition organisers, and in private galleries.
7 Self-management
Two Mock up Paintings
Workshop preparation deadlines
8 Group activity
Workshop practicals

Reading Lists

Cennino Cennini (1960) The Craftsman's Handbook (translated by D V Thompson Jnr Dover, New York
Daniel V. Thompson (1956) The Materials and Techniques of Medieval Painting Dover Books, New York
Giorgio Vasari (1960) On Technique Dover, New York
James Ayres (1985) The Artist's Craft: A History of Tools, Techniques and Materials Phaidon, Oxford
Jonathan Stephenson (1989) The Materials and Techniques of Painting Thames and Hudson, London
Max Doerner (1963) The Materials of the Artist London
Museums Association (1997) Museum Practice `Environment', Issue 4, Vol. 2, No.1
National Gallery Publications (1990) Art in the Making: Italian Painting before 1400 NGP, London
Nicholas Stanley Price, M Kirby Talley Jr, Alessandro Melucco Vaccaro (eds.) (1996) Historical and Philosophical Issues in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles
Ralph Mayer (1951) The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques Faber and Faber, London
Tate Gallery Publications (1982) Paint and Painting London


This module is at CQFW Level 6