Mould damaged example

Mouldy painting beforeAbove: an 18th century portrait covered in mould spores and darkened varnish 

Severe mould growth may disturb your painting to the point of heavy cracking, flaking and complete loss. 

As well as spreading across the surface of the painting, mould spores can embed into the varnish, frame, canvas fibres, or wooden panel. 

It is always important to have a mouldy painting assessed and restored by our professional conservators to ensure it does not continue to deteriorate as time goes on.

Professional mould removal and restoration

Restoration following mould damage firstly works to eliminate the spores, killing them off with specialist procedures to ensure the growth is no longer active and is less likely to return. 

This is especially important for artworks following a flood or water damage, which can have their mould growth limited before it spreads further. 

Our conservators will then clean away the spores with tailored solvents and solutions. They will address the painting surface as it may have become clouded due to the presence of spores. 

Flaking or lifting areas of paint will then be consolidated and stabilised, ensuring that there is no further risk of the original artwork falling away from the canvas or panel.

Mould growth causes

Mould growth on oil paintings often results from high humidity, in the UK this is often the case in the autumn and winter months when the central heating comes on but the walls or windows of a home remain cold and encourage condensation to enter the atmosphere. 

High humidity areas of a home, including certain storage spaces, bathrooms and even kitchens, may be inappropriate for the display of paintings for this very reason. 

Mould spores also occur following household disasters, including an escape of water, floods, or severe spillages. Our team often responds to disasters such as these and can be on hand to help bring an artwork or a wider collection into a safe environment following the event, reducing the risks of mould.

How to avoid mould

To reduce the growth or occurrence of mould, we recommend that paintings are kept at around 40% humidity and 20 degrees celsius. Keep them away from humid areas of the house such as bathrooms and kitchens, or anywhere that may have reoccurring mould problems. Assess the atmosphere of any storage locations and check your painting regularly for any signs of mould or deterioration.

Mould should only be cleaned by a professional conservator, it should not be cleaned with household chemicals as this may cause further damage.

Mouldy painting afterAbove: the same portrait following restoration in our studio

Modern mould example

sophie quote about removing mould from paintings

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