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Saturday, May 31 • 11:30am - 12:00pm
(Paintings + Wooden Artifacts Session) An Historical Overview of Panel Paintings and their structural treatments at the Walters Art Museum

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Almost a quarter of the Walters Art Museum’s approximately 2500 paintings are on wooden panel supports. These range from the early 12th up to the 19th Century and come from Northern and Southern Europe, Ethiopia and Thailand. A number of the panels are in a fairly pristine state but most have received a variety of structural treatments by many different hands over the years. Some had undergone major work in Europe prior to entering the collection, while others received treatments at the Walters both before and after the introduction of climate control to the buildings; including the infamous “wax tank” treatments. Damage to the substrate caused by these treatments, sometimes in combination with inherent vice and climate issues, often had a harmful effect on the paint layer resulting in paint loss. Several of these treatments have resulted in increasingly challenging problems for the conservator as we look for practical solutions to structural problems with panel paintings.
Surveying the Walters panel collection allows for an historical overview of structural treatments to panel paintings, both in Europe and North America, and illustrates the evolution of more conservative methods of treatment concomitant with the development of better climate control and a new philosophy that recognizes the importance of the wooden support to the artwork as a whole.


Karen French

Senior Conservator of Paintings, The Walters Art Museum
Karen French has been conserving paintings for over 30 years; the last 20 plus of which have been at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, where she is a senior conservator of paintings. Born and educated in the U.K., she trained in painting conservation at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. She specialized in treating paintings on wooden panel, as well as canvas paintings, and broadened her experience by working in a variety of... Read More →

Saturday May 31, 2014 11:30am - 12:00pm
Bayview A-B