Painting restoration live at the Queen’s House in Greenwich

Visitors will be given the chance to watch a painting restored live at the Queen’s House in Greenwich.

From October 25, A Royal Visit to the Fleet in the Thames Estuary by Willem van de Velde the Younger will be conserved in the Van de Velde Studio, where the artist worked on the painting during the 1670s.

Dr Allison Goudie, art curator at Royal Museums Greenwich, said: “When painted, A Royal Visit to the Fleet was one of the most ambitious seascapes ever attempted.

“It was a major royal commission, and one that speaks volumes about the importance of the maritime to the later Stuart kings’ self-image.

“The entire painting revolves around the king – although his figure is absent from the composition – and the entire action and drama of the painting revolves around his presence, making it so much more than just a seascape.”

The conservation treatment began in late 2020 with surface cleaning and consolidation to address active flaking in the paint film.

Subsequent work began on the removal of the uneven, highly discoloured varnish layers and extensive overpaint, both of which had been masking the subtle and skilfully painted original paint layers beneath.

It has also recently been relined – a process by which an old degraded additional support canvas applied by an earlier restorer is replaced with a new one – by a specialist conservator.

Paintings conservator at Royal Museums Greenwich, Sarah Maisey, said: “To date this has been a very challenging but satisfying painting to work on.

“I am enormously excited to be carrying out the retouching process in the Queen’s House, in the very room where Van de Velde likely worked and created the painting in the first place.

“There is a very special connection between the painting, the artist and the Queen’s House, and it is an honour to be carrying out the work in that space”.



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