Restorer Josien van der Werf’s blog about the restoration of ‘Brielse Nachwacht’ (De officieren van het Oranje Vendel) by Maarten van der Fuijck
(Brielle Night Watch - The officers of the Orange Banner) 

BLOG 1. THE START
18 February 2015
I’m currently restoring the militia group portrait ‘De Officieren van het Oranje Vendel’ (The Officers of the Orange Banner) in the Council Chamber of Brielle’s Old Town Hall.

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At first glance that doesn’t seem to be much wrong with the painting. There are no visible tears, and there’s no paint flaking off it. It appears to be a very large painting painted by a fairly mediocre artist: 28 stiff men in a line with strange spots on their faces. But nothing is further from the truth. Read more...

BLOG 2. THE STORY OF THE DAMAGE
The first thing you notice when you enter the council chamber of the Old Town Hall in Brielle is the enormous militia group portrait placed on the floor against the wall.
There is work in progress here. The painting is being restored. But how much restoration is actually required? The image is covered in damage. Read more...

BLOG 3. REMOVING OVERPAINTINGS AND RETOUCHINGS
Over the past few weeks I have been working to remove the overpaintings and the retouchings of the original paint layer. One question that I am often asked is: how do you know that you’re not dissolving the original paint when you remove the overpaintings?

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In 1660 the militiamen were painted with oil paint. In simple terms, paint consists of pigments and binding agent. In this case that binding agent is an evaporating oil. The oil has totally hardened in the oil paint from 1660, so it has a very different solubility than the overpaintings (also oil paint) applied the 20th century. Tests with different solvents allow me to mix the mildest solvent to dissolve the overpaintings. Read more...

BLOG 4. RETOUCHING AND RETOUCHING
The next phase
All the overpaintings have been removed. The next phase of the restoration process has arrived. After applying a protective coat of varnish to the entire image, I have now started retouching all the damage. Read more...

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