Conservation and Restoration of Paintings


The main goal of this CU is to develop critical thinking and practical skills in the students, enabling them to weigh treatment options and formulate a proposal, as well as to perform basic conservation procedures in paintings.
At the end of this CU, the student should have the knowledge to evaluate: 1) the current condition a painting; 2) the cause of damages in the painting; 3) the risks/benefits associated with the proposed treatments.
The student should learn to develop a rigorous experimental approach for test and evaluate the effectiveness and safety of the considered treatment materials and techniques. The student should also learn how to properly document and report the conservation treatments performed.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Sara Sobral Babo


Weekly - 6

Total - Available soon

Teaching language



Not aplied


The Conservation of Easel Paintings, Joyce Hill Stoner and Rebecca Rushfield (ed.),Routledge, Oxon, UK and New York, NY, 2012

Kirsh, Andrea and Rustin Levenson.  Seeing Through Paintings. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.

Horie, Velson Materials for Conservation: organic consolidants, adhesives and coatings, Routledge, Oxon, UK and New York, NY, 2013 (first published by Butterworths 1987).

Down, Jane Adhesive Compendium for Conservation, Canadian Conservation Institute, 2015

Dawson, W. Carr and Mark Leonard.  Looking at Paintings:  A Guide to Technical Terms.  Santa Monica, CA: The Getty Museum, 1992.

Supplementary: Gettens, R.J. and George L. Stout.  Painting Materials. New York: Dover, 1966. 

Teaching method

The classes of CRPt will be divided between TP and P, with the major part of the time available dedicated to the practical classes, given the objectives of this CU.

TP lectures will be typically one hour length and will be presented as illustrated powerpoints. Lectures will be associated with articles or book chapters to be read by students prior to the class. These will be discussed before the powerpoint presentation, engaging the students with the subject. The presentation will serve to consolidate what was previously read and discussed. Students will be encouraged to ask questions throughout the class and to seek clarification for any of the concepts or issues being presented.

Regarding the practical classes, in the first part of the semester, students will perform exercises in mock-ups. In the second part, they will be dedicated to their case studies. Considering the available time for this CU, this would mean that the work on the paintings will focus mainly on a detailed treatment proposal and the execution of only a part of the treatment.

At the end of the semester, a study visit will be organized to the paintings conservation labs of LJF.

Evaluation method

This course has frequency, i.e. a set of conditions to be met by the student in order to have access to the exam; the student will have access to the exam as long as they don''t miss more than 1/3 of the practical classes (a condition for obtaining frequency).

Assessment includes:


Test (or exam): 25%


- Preparatory work for the development of conservation and restoration practice (mini-report on one of the themes developed in the practicals): 10%

- Treatment Proposal: 10%

- Condition & Treatment report: 20%

-Final Presentation and Discussion: 20%

-Participation and "Hands on": 15%


Final Grade= (TP*0.25)+(P*0.75)

To pass the course, you must have a minimum of 9.5 in both components (Theoretical-Practical and Practical).


Please note that according to the FCT NOVA Assessment Regulations:

Article 9 "Plagiarism and Fraud": 3. When the existence of fraud or plagiarism is proven in any of the assessment elements of a course, the students directly involved will fail the course outright, without prejudice to possible disciplinary or civil proceedings, and the occurrence will be reported to the Director of the FCT by the person responsible for the course.

Subject matter

This CU is divided in two main parts. The first is focus on delivering fundamental knowledge about elementary steps in the treatment of paintings. It comprises six main modules: consolidation, structural treatments, cleaning, filling, inpainting and varnishing. Classical as well as more recent approaches will be covered. Special attention will be given to the challenges and particularities presented by contemporary paintings. The second part of the CU is more directed to the conservation treatment as a whole. In this part, the aim is to instil in students the understanding that a conservation treatment is a multi-stage process where each step influences the other; to highlight that each treatment is a specific solution for a specific painting within a specific context; and to make them understand that a methodological approach is necessary to perform a conservation treatment.

The course includes theoretical-practical (TP) and practical (P) classes. TP classes of the first part will focus on transmitting general knowledge about the six main modules (consolidation, structural treatments, cleaning, filling, inpainting and varnishing). The P classes in this first part of the course will follow up the theoretical ones and will be focused on mock-ups where students can try for each module different materials and techniques; experience good and bad results; understand the limitations of the different materials; learn how to proceed with methodological testing (and respective documentation in the lab book); as well as develop critical thinking. In the second part of the CU, there will only be two TP, one related with the importance of the treatment sequence and material compatibility and other about transport, storage and packing materials for paintings.  Most of the time will be devoted to the practical work on paintings selected as case-studies.