Condition Appraisals

With a given painting, the first step is to assess its’ condition and any damage, ongoing causes of deterioration, previous treatments, historic and environmental factors, as a precursor to developing a treatment proposal. Condition appraisals can involve consolidation and cleaning tests, photography and laboratory analysis as well as a close visual examination of the object. Sometimes the appraisals can be brief and quite simple, whilst some paintings require more rigorous and detailed assessment. Condition appraisals can be undertaken to single paintings or to whole collections. Condition appraisals can therefore vary in length and depth of analysis from brief letter to a considerable report, depending upon the conservation needs of the painting(s). Technical examination can include x-ray or infra-red imaging, which will be charged separately.

Cross-sections of paint samples.

A small sample of paint, set in resin then cut and polished, is then examined and photographed under a microscope.

This basic analytical method can be broadly applied to assess the technique, history, materials and condition of paint layers on an easel painting, wall painting or in an historic interior.

UV fluorescence photographs can reveal retouching and signatures on paintings.

Examinations of dirt, varnishes, glazes, paint and overpaint layers under different lighting sources and using technical photography (ultraviolet, infrared, x-rays etc.) can be part of condition appraisals.

ARH Conservation


Signature and date (Sam Bough, 1877) visible under UV light but not visible to the naked eye

Cross-section of a paint sample taken from a 1930s historic interior showing successive paint layers

Detail of water-damaged 18th century wallpainting showing cleaning test

Raking light detail of surface distortion to an early 20th century beach scene caused by poor patching, before treatment


Small 20th century aboriginal painting under examination.


Large 20th century aboriginal painting under examination.