Lady Elizabeth Foster
Richard Cosway, R.A. (English, 1742-1821)
Lady Elizabeth Foster, 18th century
Oil on Canvas
Conserved in 2013 with Support from the Stockman Family Foundation
Condition Prior to Treatment (2009):
Paint Layer Condition: There are some small, isolated areas of insecure paint along the top edge, upper left, in the left central background, and in the right central background. There is a large spot of old filling and inpainting in her cheek; it presents a good appearance. A tear in the central left background has been carefully filled and inpainted. Ultra violet light reveals numerous small spots and lines of inpainting under the layers of natural resin varnish; these are visible in the background drape, in her leftmost sleeve, near the edges, along the slight stretcher bar creases, and in the lower right corner.
Surface Film: There are multiple layers of yellow-brown, natural resin varnish. The buildup of varnish seems to be heaviest in the dark drape and background colors.
Conservation Treatment (2013):
The varnish, although yellowed, presents a good appearance. In consultation with the curator and director, it was decided that varnish removal was not necessary at this point in time. Insecure paint was consolidated with Beva 371 conservation adhesive and set in place with localized heat and pressure. The heavy layer of surface grime was removed with appropriate cleaning agents. Since the current varnish layer adequately saturated the paint layer, no additional isolating layer before inpainting was deemed necessary. A few paint losses were filled with pigmented, microcrystalline wax. Paint losses and abrasions were inpainted with pigments in PVA AYAA/AYAC (polyvinyl acetate, Union Carbide). Removal of the grime also made many of the tiny white inclusions in the paint layer that had been revealed by minor, cleaning abrasion from previous treatments, more visible. In addition to the larger paint losses and abrasions, many of these small, distracting white dots were inpainted to give the painting a more intact appearance. Some old inpainting was adjusted slightly to better blend with the original paint. Some contraction cracking in the black lace was also inpainted. A final layer of Beva UVS Finishing Varnish (Regalrez) was applied overall. This greatly evened the surface sheen but some areas of old inpainting are still slightly duller than the surrounding original paint.