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Art Restoration Reveals Originals, Abandoned Paintings, and Turns 60 Dollars into Riches

Art Restoration Reveals Originals, Abandoned Paintings, and Turns 60 Dollars into Riches

Recently we showed you what happened when very old, yellowing varnish was removed from a 17th century painting. In just a few seconds a drab, discolored portrait was transformed into a vibrant work of art, unveiling the piece as the artist originally meant for us to see it. It was like watching a magic trick, only instead of an illusionist, it was a highly skilled art restoration expert using the power of science. But like any good act it’s a trick worth seeing again and again, and fortunately for us the man who brought us the first one has a some more for us to enjoy, including a new one where a face is conjured up from nowhere, and another where the payoff was almost half a billion dollars.

It was art dealer Philip Mould who brought us the first example of varnish removal, and recently he shared more examples of restoration work. He also offered some insights into the kind of lost information it can produce.

In this next one he explains how the varnish goes from being a protective cover for the work to becoming a yellow tomb for its real beauty.

But while removing the varnish reveals the painting’s true color, there’s another technique that reveals something much harder to see. Look at this painting from 1759.

So what does taking an X-ray of it reveal? A horror movie premise.

Getting an X-ray result like that is very different for a painting than from your doctor. (If you’re like us and find all of this work fascinating, check out his Twitter feed where he answered some questions about why it’s unlikely that abandoned painting was a self-portrait.)

Here’s another.

So what about that whole “half a billion dollars” trick? Recently a painting by Leonardo da Vinci was sold for a world record price of over 450 million dollars. For years no one even realized it had been painted by da Vinci, because a bad restoration added paint and obscured the identity of the master who had created it.

So what was the value of the painting before it was restored?

Turning sixty dollars into almost half a billion? Now that’s a magic trick.

What is your all-time favorite restored work of art? Paint our comments section with yours.

Featured Image: Philip Mould

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