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The introduction of new paint into areas of loss (lacunae), and only into areas of loss, to “reestablish the potential unity of the work of art, as long as this is possible without producing an artistic or historical forgery and without erasing every trace of the passage of time left on the work of art.” ( Brandi 1963) Inpainting should only be done using chemically stable, easily reversible pigments so that the intervention will not result in future damage to the work of art.

Retouching specifically applies to similar work not done by a conservator, but is often used interchangeably with inpainting. Overpainting applies to an intervention that either partially or completely covers the original paint layer.

Plaster fill prior to inpainting
Plaster fill during inpainting process, using selezione chromatica (chromatic selection, variation of tratteggio method)
Plaster fill after inpainting process is complete.

Related Terms[edit | edit source]

retouching; reintegration; pictorial restoration; overpainting; lacunae

Translation[edit | edit source]

English inpainting
French retouche
Spanish retoque
Italian reintegrazione
German restaurierung
Chinese (Traditional) 全色

Discussion[edit | edit source]

Inpainting is an incredibly time consuming process that often incites heated philosophical debates. It is often the final step in a conservation treatment, and can have a dramatic impact on the overall aesthetics of an object. The main goal is to reintegrate the lacunae, allowing the viewer to appreciate the overall aesthetics of the work of art without being distracted by either the damage, or the inpainting itself. Choosing the proper colors for this process can be difficult, due to the inevitable variations in lighting conditions, visitor perception, and aging between old and new materials. ( Burns et al. 2002)

While most conservators agree that Cesare Brandi’s position, that “reconstruction of the missing area should stop when hypothesis begins,” the method for said reconstruction varies widely. Historically, the restorer, or conservator, would attempt to make the intervention as invisible as possible. Beginning in the 1950's however, attitudes began to change, leading to a variety of different modern techniques.

In addition to completely disguising a conservator's inpainting, methods like tratteggio and its derivatives (including selezione chromatica), allow the viewer to distinguish (with scrutiny) between modern conservation treatments and original paint.

References[edit | edit source]

Inpainting. Book and Paper Conservation Wiki.

Inpainting of Photographic Prints. Photographic Materials Conservation Catalog.

Brandi, Cesare. (1963/1996). “Theory of Restoration, I.” In N. S Price, M. K. Talley Jr, & A. M. Vaccaro (Eds.), Historical and Philosophical Issues in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage (pp. 230-235). Los Angeles, CA: Getty Conservation Institute.

Inpainting. 2004. Art and Architecture Thesaurus Online. Getty Research Institute. 15 March, 2014).

Berns, Roy S, Krueger, Jay, and Swicklik, Michael. 2002. “Multiple Pigment Selection for Inpainting Using Visible Reflectance Spectrophotometry.” Studies in Conservation 47 (1): pp. 46-61.

Yale University. 2010. “Restoration of an Early Italian Panel Painting.” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin, Time Will Tell: Ethics and Choices in Conservation (2010): pp. 91-93.

Samet, Wendy. (1994).The Philosophy of Aesthetic Reintegration: Paintings and Painted Furniture. In: Dorge, Valerie and Howlett, F. Carey (Eds.), Painted Wood: History and Conservation (pp 412-423). Los Angeles, CA: Getty Conservation Institute.

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