Conservation of Turner’s ‘Lowther Castle – Evening’: Week 3

Thursday 21st of November was the last day of cleaning the Turner in the Gallery! It has been interesting being viewed through a window, and slightly disconcerting as I felt as if I was in a theatre production.

During the cleaning of the painting it has become obvious that the picture is even more complex than I had thought. There are old damages, and some repairs and retouchings are quite hard to read.  The sky is now being thinned down and some of the areas of varnish will be left alone, as different areas of the painting seem to react in very different ways. Turner’s technique is very varied and he rarely painted two paintings in the same way. I have also partially cleaned the trees, while revealing the fully cleaned background behind them.

The painting is now back in the Conservation Studio where we have better lighting conditions and the use of a microscope. This means I can start to carry out more complex processes that aren’t entirely suitable for the Gallery.

Jon examines the painting in the Conservation Studio
Jon examines the painting in the Conservation Studio

I have taken more samples to send to the lab, and I am continuing to research other works by Turner from around the same time period to compare with this one. This will help me when it comes to tackling the more challenging areas of this interesting painting and with the necessary retouching.

I hope to have the project complete by the end of March.

By Jon Old, Conservation Manager

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