30 Jan 2015

Are Restored Paintings Worth Anything?

If the original painting was valuable, often restorations can retain the value of a painting. Works of art are meant to be seen, and having a painting restored removes the effects of time so that we’re able to see the painting as it was originally intended. A good conservator will restore the painting safely and properly without affecting its authenticity. In fact, many famous works of art have been carefully restored by skilled hands – even the ones that you see in museums!

Valuable Restored Paintings

Conservation Vs. Restoration

Conservation is a newer discipline whereas restoration has existed for centuries. Conservators are trained in the science behind paints and age as well as historical trends for accuracy. The idea behind conservation is to modify as little as possible to preserve the integrity of the painting for the future. Restoration is done by artisans who consider their trade an art more than a science. There are fewer restraints when it comes to restoring a painting, which is why sometimes the endeavor goes awry.

A Damaged Painting’s Worth

In general, collectors value items in better condition, so damaged artwork usually doesn’t go for as much as its well preserved counterparts. A restoration can try to repair damage but excessive dirt, discolouration, or even tears may be beyond fixing. In those cases, the restoration won’t be able to return the painting to its original state, and consequently the value doesn’t improve.

Art’s Subjective Value

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and for a non-empirical area of study like art, this is certainly true. As such, given the same painting to 10 skilled artisans, each of those restorations will turn out differently. Of course, a highly regarded expert will provide better service, and charge the owner of the painting more. If you believe your painting was poorly restored, there is little that can be done about it. Unfortunately, changes made during the restoration were meant to be permanent, so reversing the process will be difficult.

You may be considering increasing the value of your painting, so here are a few tips to help with the process:

  • Never attempt a restoration yourself unless you’re experienced
  • Reputation is a good indicator of competence, so don’t hesitate to ask around
  • A restoration of a painting that’s not originally valuable will not suddenly make it more collectible
  • Even what appear to be simple fixes should be left to the experts
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