Information on varnishing practice can be sought either from contemporary documentary evidence, or by examining paintings and their conservation records, and recognizing and analysing original material. The difficulties and pitfalls of identifying ‘the original varnish’ are discussed, and the importance to the interpretation of analytical results of artists' letters or diaries, contemporary descriptions of artistic practice, artists' manuals, detailed historic conservation records, and observations during cleaning, is highlighted. Examples discussed include varnishes used by, or remaining on, the paintings of: Turner, Opie, the Pre‐Raphaelite Brotherhood, Millais, Whistler, Sargent and Wilson Steer, and varnishes of probable nineteenth‐century date found on eighteenth‐century paintings by Reynolds.
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Journal of the Institute of Conservation
Taylor and Francis