This paper concentrates on the practical application of biaxial testing of canvas as the first step in gaining further insight into the mechanical properties of the complex composite structure of a canvas painting. Existing testing instruments and testing methods, directly relevant to canvas painting conservation, are reviewed. The design and implementation of a biaxial tensile tester specifically for a new research initiative in painting conservation is described, together with experimental results for raw linen canvas under uniaxial and biaxial loading. The long-term aim of this research is to aid conservators in the selection and development of conservation treatments and methodologies.
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