...l'opera d'arte condiziona il restauro, non giá l'opposto."
"... a work of art determines its restoration, rather than the opposite."
Cesare Brandi, Teoria del Restauro
Why restore a painting?
Many are the reasons why a painting ought to be subjected to a restoration treatment: natural aging of the materials, human intervention, mechanical damages and environmental conditions. Any of these agents can seriously impact a work of art.
The natural aging process of the materials can lead to structural and aesthetic changes that can, in turn, threaten the stability of the materials and eventually alter even the appearance of the artwork. Previous restoration that has lost its effectiveness could also be a reason for a work of art to require a new treatment.
Conservation and restoration are phases of the same process: they both aim at returning the art object to a condition as close as possible to that of its origin and to ensure its future health and endurance. The goal of conservation is to preserve and restore the materials of the artwork, especially those that "carry" the image, such as the paint itself . A conservation treatment may also involve works on the structure, such as consolidation of the ground layers and flaking color film, flattening of canvas distortions, reinforcement of torn areas, or relining and replacement of old supports.
The goal of restoration is the re-acquisition of the original aesthetic appearance of the artwork and the re-activation of its communicational energy. This phase may include the removal of surface dirt, yellowed or darkened varnish, and even of elements left over from old restoration. It may also include the filling or retouching of losses. The ingredients used in restoration should be as reversible as possible, to allow future intervention, if needed. Restoration should always be carried out with the utmost respect for the artist's original intentions.