Eight portraits at the Tate Gallery by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) were examined to assess whether the varnishes could be removed safely. Analysis of the paint medium was carried out with DTMS (direct temperature-resolved pyrolysis mass spectrometry), varnish having been removed beforehand in test cleans by a variety of methods. Most samples included mixtures of the following media: linseed and walnut oils (some with lead driers), beeswax, mastic resin, Venice turpentine and on occasion bitumen. Beeswax was a significant component of the paint film in several paintings. An assessment was made of the effects of cleaning methods on areas of paint.
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