‘A Country Gentleman, Charles Burnet’, by Johann Zoffany

Zoffany BT
Zoffany AT

This work had been acquired by Manchester Art Gallery in 1934 as a portrait by Nathaniel Dance. The painting entered the studio in good condition and appeared to have been undergone conservation treatment within the last twenty years. The artwork has been lined in the past with a canvas paste lining, the canvas was in stable condition though the tension was slightly slack. The original canvas had suffered damage in the past in the form of a number of tears which included damage to the paint layers and are clearly visible in ultra violet light. There was also a small area of damage in the right eye of the sitter. Apart from the areas of damage the adhesion between the original canvas support, the ground and the paint layer appeared sound. In general the paint layer was in very good condition. There was a very fine ageing cracquelure across the painting, due to the normal drying of the oil paint. The varnish appeared to be slightly discoloured. There was a layer of ingrained dirt and old varnish between the paint layer and the varnish, possibly left during the last restoration campaign, and a layer of surface dirt. Our treatment started with surface cleaning using an aqueous solution. The varnish, engrained dirt and the residues of degraded varnish were removed. The old retouching on the tears were removed and some of the old fillings were removed. The areas of the tears were treated with gentle pressure and humidity to flatten the deformation. A thin layer of varnish was applied to protect the surface and to saturate the colours. Any damage was filled, textured and retouched taking care not to cover any original paint. A final spray varnish was applied. Thanks to our treatment, Zoffany’s signature touches of quirky pose, ‘stringy’ hands, and fine detail alongside fast, loose brushwork could sing again, and the artwork was recognised as being by the artist Johann Zoffany