Conservation of 18th century wall paintings

Condition assessment of wall painting scheme by the Swedish artist Elias Martin in the Drawing Room at Sunbury Court.

Project overview

Project overview
Cliveden Conservation was invited to carry out a condition assessment of the 18th century wall painting scheme by the Swedish artist Elias Martin in the Drawing Room at Sunbury Court. The client wanted to address the ongoing loss of paint and ensure the paintings were stable.

Summary of the conservation work carried out
Initial investigations were undertaken, including documenting all conservation issues, examination under UV illumination, paint analysis and treatment trials.

Large areas of the painted surfaces, particularly brown and green pigments, exhibited craquelure – a network of fine cracks caused by a shrinkage of the paint film while drying. A weakness in the original materials was thought to be the reason for the craquelure, causing lifting and flaking of paint.

Plaster layers were stabilised using dispersed lime injection grout. Paint layers were stabilised using conservation adhesive and applying gentle pressure to the paint flakes with a heated spatula. Cleaning was carried out to remove the thick yellow varnish.

Re-painting was undertaken in areas of loss using acrylic paint. A stable, modern varnish was then applied in a single layer for protection against environmental factors and accidental damage.

The appearance of the paintings has been greatly improved with conservation treatment. Details including the delicate highlights and brushwork are now visible giving viewers a renewed appreciation of the artist’s skill and technique. Losses to the paint layer have been re-touched, restoring the paintings to their original splendour.


Project details


Sunbury Court

Main Contractor:

Cliveden Conservation


Advisory and material analysis | Decorative arts

What we did

The work carried out by the Cliveden Conservation team was of the highest professional standard from the initial condition report through to the actual restorative work and the final treatment report. The Murals can now be seen as a true asset to our Building.”

Bernard Potter, Sunbury Court