Diagnosis and Conservation of Paintings


The course is designed to introduce third year undergraduate level conservation students to the care and preventive conservation of historical and modern easel paintings (panel and canvas supports primarily).


The primary objective is to develop observation and assessment skills through teaching professional level documentation (Examination and Condition Reporting), safe handling, and the diagnosis & evaluation of a painting’s state of preservation (stability/instability).


Students will acquire basic knowledge of the primary materials and layer structure of  traditional and modern  paintings, and the physical and mechanical properties of the paint composite (support, ground & paint layers, varnish).  To assess a painting’s state of preservation in order to make recommendations for safe display, storage and travel, students will learn the principal causes of deterioration and will be introduced to the ethical issues and range of options for both historical and current conservation-restoration procedures. Scientific methods and techniques for investigating paint and paintings will be introduced and students will learn to carry out photo-documentation as well as micro-sampling and the use of both the stereomicroscope and the optical microscope.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Leslie Anne Carlyle, Raquel de Rocha Marques


Weekly - 5

Total - Available soon

Teaching language





The primary Source Book for paintings conservation is now:

The Conservation of Easel Paintings, Joyce Hill Stoner and Rebecca Rushfield (editors),Routledge, Oxon, UK and New York, NY, 2012. ISBN: 978-0-7506-8199-5 (hbk), 978-0-08-094169-1(ebk).


Teaching method

Available soon

Evaluation method

Available soon

Subject matter

Lectures 1-2 hour illustrated powerpoints.  Students are encouraged to ask questions throughout and to seek clarification for any of the concepts or issues being presented. Powerpoint lectures and associated publications/articles (as PDFs) for each session are available for students to download.

Studio sessions: students experience paintings first-hand and develop their visual/observational skills.  Students carry out an examination and condition report  and prepare or view paint and fibre samples with the optical microscope. They carry out photo-documentation with the following light sources: Normal, Raking, Transmitted, Ultra-violet (UV), and Infra-red (IR) as well as X-radiography. They are introduced to a range of diagnostic techniques used for investigating the materials and condition of a painting (e.g., FTIR, Raman, XRF, SEM-BSE).


Programs where the course is taught: