In the limelight: Restoration of paintings

Lydie Patonnier (ARCOA), site manager, restorer of painted murals and artwork, describes the steps in restoration of painted décor.

“The Admirals Hall and Golden Gallery have a highly refined and complete décor. Restoration of the paintings required a number of painting skills. A wide range of knowhow was focused on the project, from the analysis of colours to the touching up of decorative motifs and the art of the portraitist.




Our work was carried out in four main phases:

  • Investigation and expert appraisal of colours by means of stratigraphic analysis, enabling the Scientific Committee for the project to determine the most appropriate techniques to be employed and the colours to be used for restorative paintwork. The range of original colours proved to be astonishingly broad: from vermillion to blue-grey and all shades of white.
  • Cleaning consisted in meticulously removing dust and soil. Cleaning of the soiled paintwork and giltwork confirmed the high quality of many of the original pigments.
  • Consolidation of paintwork was sometimes necessary when the pictorial coat had lifted, especially on the portraits of Tourville and Duguay-Trouin.
  • Touching up of gaps, holes, and accidental damage. Splits were first filled with ‘Dutchmen’ (pieces of wood shaped to fill a gap), then coated and finally painted over.

We were lucky in making some discoveries:

  • a rich wine-red frieze with coloured fillet strips bordering the ceiling was reinstated,
  • investigation of the two ceiling compartments revealed the original pastel blue colour beneath the overpainted jasper green,
  • the names of sea battles in a blue-green cartouche above each portrait were revealed: Le Texel for Jean Bart, Messine for Duquesne, Riojaneiro for Duguay-Trouin, and Béveziers (Beachy Head) for Tourville”.

(Updated: January 2016)