It is the first step for an appropriate conservation of the work of art over time. Prevention consists in implementing a series of precautions with the purpose of ensuring the maintenance of an object and the periodic follow-ups of its conditions of conservation, also related to the particular climatic context of the space where it is exposed.
You can find here some suggestions to maintain the paintings one has at home in the best conditions, to avoid the damages and problems that would compel us to assume the costs of a restoration.
If you have some paintings at home and wish to keep them correctly, you have to avoid the direct light from a window on them, to place them above a radiator or on a fireplace hood. The direct light actually speeds up the oxidation of the binding agents and the heat dries and withers the pictorial layer. In the same way the heat ascending from a radiator is charged with dust and polluting particles that will then be deposited on the surface of the painting. If a painting is placed on a fireplace hood, it could happen over time that some whitish spots appear, as a consequence of ash that hot air gets loaded with, then carries and deposits as microparticles on the surface of the painting, then amalgam on it with the high temperature.
If your oil paintings are “protected” by a glass, please make sure that it doesn’t directly touch the pictorial surface and that you don’t see any whitish halos or small round spots on it. They would reveal some condensation phenomena or the presence of fungi, extremely dangerous for the pictorial surface. In this case we suggest to contact a restoration studio.
If the painting is not under a glass, we advise to avoid in any case the use of a conventional duster or damp cloth to get rid of the dust. In fact, if some particles of colour were loose (even if they are difficult to detect to the naked eye) they would get an impact that could lead to their detachment and to some paint/colour losses. A damp cloth could matt the varnish and eliminate some restorations. Some pale and dark spots would then appear on the pictorial surface.
If you wish to clean the dust please delicately flutter an ostrich feather duster over it.
If you look at a surface of a painting in a raking light you can easily verify the presence of craquelure and lifting of its pictorial layers which, if they are very pronounced, mean that it has to be given to a restoration studio.
If you have paintings on panel and remark small woodworm holes profiled in white and some spilling of dust on the painting or on its frame, it is very likely that the eggs laying has been recent and the larvae will develop by early spring.
If you have paintings on canvas and their surface appears irregular or deformed, it means that the cloth has lost its tension and that, it if this situation would go on, it could result in serious damage of the pictorial layers. In this case too it is important to give the painting to a restoration studio.