Joana Devesa

Research Summary

To date there has not been a systematic study establishing a correlation between cleaning methods used in the past and damages currently observed on historic oil paintings, such as evidence of paint abrasion. To address this gap, research on 17th-19th century alkali-based cleaning recipes is being undertaken, focusing on the use of historic reagents for surface cleaning and the removal of varnish.
A collection of historic cleaning recipes is being evaluated and a representative selection will be prepared using historically appropriate materials. Reconstructions will be tested on highly characterised model paints (naturally and artificially aged) as well as on naturally aged 19th and early 20ieth oil paintings using application methods described in the sources. To assess the visual and chemical impact of the cleaning agents and their application methods on the oil paint, a range of complementary analytical techniques will be used before and after alkali exposure.

PhD Project title: Historic alkaline cleaning recipes from 1600 to 1900 and their impact on traditional oil paintings.

Supervisors: Leslie Carlyle (LAQV-REQUIMTE and DCR FCT/UNL, Portugal), Maartje-Stols Witlox (UVA - Faculty of Humanities, University of Amsterdam), Jaap J. Boon (JAAP Enterprise)