Portrait of Ralph Howard, later 1st Viscount Wicklow (1726–1786) 1752
Pompeo Batoni (Italian, 1708–1787)
Oil on canvas
Purchase, Museum Art Fund 1960.8
Viscount Wicklow in his fabulous fur robe would look a whole lot more fabulous if he had a little bit of a bath! The years have been unkind to our aristocrat.
The painting is coated with a synthetic resin varnish which has gone hazy and dull in its old age. Because of this, there is virtually zero color saturation, rending Ralph rather flat. Surface dirt deposits sit atop the varnish, which certainly do not help matters. Areas of inpainting have discolored, revealing scattered glossy patches of discolored pigment. A moderate layer of grime is coating the surface and embedded in the varnish.
Cleaning tests revealed that the haze and varnish can be removed successfully, without damaging the original paint. Old areas of inpainting will be completely removed and carefully adjusted.
As a result, the appearance of this dapper fellow would be dramatically improved. Let’s see how red that velvet really is!