Book Series Painting and Practice, vol. 3

Painting Restoration before "La Restauration"

The Origins of the Profession in France

Ann Massing

  • Pages: 320 p.
  • Size:238 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:240 b/w
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2012

  • ISBN: 978-1-905375-34-9
  • Hardback
  • Available


"Le documentazioni e testimonianze riunite in questo volume così denso, quale che sia il giudizio che noi diamo dei singoli episodi, offrono in ogni caso al lettore la possibilità di un'affascinante incursione in una grande stagione della storia del restauro." (Giorgio Bonsanti, in: Kermes, N° 89, Gennaio-Marzo 2013, p. 77-78)

“Massing’s treatment is both broad in scope and impressively detailed, exposing the substantial nature of her research for over a decade (...). Her book will be attractive to a wide readership because of the clarity of the narrative and the addition of many illustrations using historical prints and reproductions of works of art. This exquisitely produced book invites a selective approach to the reading because of the way the text is laid-out in small, separate units, signaled by subheadings, rather in the manner of a reference work.” (Cathleen Hoeniger, in Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, 5 July 2018)


During the latter half of the eighteenth century, especially the period around and just after the French Revolution, what was happening in France in the field of painting restoration influenced all of Europe. In 1750 the museum in the Luxembourg Palace in Paris was opened to the public, and it became necessary to display to the public paintings which had been in storage for years. In the following decades King Louis XVI and his advisor, the Comte d’Angiviller, developed and enlarged the national collection of paintings. And with this came the need for painting restorers doing quality work – more than just the quick repairs as done by painters in the past – and several full-time painting restorers were employed. By the time the museum in the Louvre was opened to the public in 1793, in the midst of the French Revolution, the profession had been established.

During the latter half of the eighteenth century, painting restoration techniques improved and French restorers began to travel to England and to other European countries more frequently, spreading their practical knowledge – especially about the lining and transfer of paintings. In Paris, a national concours was prepared to choose the most capable from a growing group of candidates, and in 1802 plans were drafted for a school of restoration.

In this book the lives and careers of several of the more well-documented painting restorers for the French Royal Collection are traced one-by-one – including as much as possible about their restoration techniques.

Ann Massing has a degree in the History of Art and Fine Art from Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana and has the title of Diplom-Restorator from the Institut für Technologie der Malerei, Stuttgart, Germany. She is a painting restorer and was Assistant to the Director of the Hamilton Kerr Institute from 1978 to 2007.