Changing Pictures: the Degradation of Oil Paints
As part of a project under the Internationalisation Partnership Awards Scheme
(IPAS), funded by the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST), the
Department of Conservation and Built Heritage, organized a successful and well-
attended two-day seminar entitled “Changing pictures: the degradation of oil paints”
on 12 and 13 th July 2018. For this occasion Dr Katrien Keune and Dr Annelies van
Loon from the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam) and Dr Austin Nevin now at Gothenburg
University (Sweden) were invited to deliver keynote lectures on paint degradation
phenomena seen on oil. Other speakers included Roberta De Angelis, Jennifer Porter
and Nathalie Debono from the Department of Conservation and Built Heritage who
spoke about paint degradation and conservation issues related to the 18 th -century wall
painting at the chapel of Palazzo De la Salle (Valletta).
The seminar was an occasion to spread awareness on all those changes undergone by
oil paintings as a result of their original composition (pigments and binders) and their
interactions with environmental conditions. As time progresses, paints generally
undergo visual changes, become more fragile and sensitive to environmental factors.
Their conservation can often pose challenging issues. Knowledge on these
degradation processes is therefore essential when determining exhibition or storage
conditions, as well as when designing conservation treatments.
The seminar was well attended and extremely well received by the local conservation
community, including, besides conservators, also art historians and scientists. Invited
attendees came from the Department of History of Art, Metal and Materials
Engineering (University of Malta), from Heritage Malta, St John’s Co-Cathedral
Foundation, the Malta Association of Conservators-Restorers (MAPCoRe), and the