Works of art are subject to a variety of disfiguring ills, many of them caused by environmental effects, particularly temperature and humidity changes and pollution. Much modern conservation effort is directed toward producing a stable, favorable situation for the display of art works and maintaining regular inspection and diagnostic procedures to combat deterioration. Techniques for this inspection have become increasingly sophisticated; they currently involve photographic, X-ray, infrared, and other radiation examination, as well as complex chemical analysis.
All effective art conservation and restoration ultimately depend upon the restorer's understanding of materials, technical craftsmanship, and aesthetic and historical awareness. The support (such as wood panel, canvas, paper), the ground (gesso, chalk), and the surface treatment (wax, varnish) of a painting all undergo some form of decay over the years.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.