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Owning an antique or an expensive rare painting gives one an exhilarating feeling. Maintaining them, however, requires the tender care you would dispense to a newborn. Constant dusting and cleaning are a top prerogative, but using incorrect cleaning products and methods can ruin the pieces.
Warm water is the best and most gentle cleanser. Delicate porous materials need to be treated very mildly. It is advisable to clean a tiny area first and then check for the effect before proceeding. For really delicate paintings, you can gently dust the dirt away with a soft brush. Paintings also need to be kept in an area with adequate ventilation so that they do not deteriorate due to dryness or moisture.
You would also have to assess whether the varnish of the painting has aged. This can be protected by cleaning the area with a cotton swab and a good emulsion which will not damage oil paint.
If your painting is ancient or really valuable, it is better to dust it with a fine bristle paint brush and leave it alone. Anything more should be left to professionals who will ascertain the best possible way to clean it without damaging its originality. Altering true antiques almost always decreases their value, whether or not they look better to you.
The rule of thumb, therefore, is that if you are not sure about the material and technique to use on a particular antique painting, do not do it. Research well on your prized possession, mainly on the material, texture and nature of the paint used, and choose cleaning methods accordingly, or get the services of a professional.
• Paintings must be cleaned with utmost precision.
• They have to be kept in well-ventilated locations.
• It's better to leave thorough cleaning to the pros.
Source: Special to Classifieds