Lacquer on wood cracking

Investigating, modelling and preventing damage to works of art

Example projects 

Oriental lacquer and the Mazarin Chest  

The Mazarin Chest is made from black-lacquered wood which is lavishly decorated with landscape scenes. The Chest was manufactured in Kyoto in about 1640 and is displayed in the V&A Museum. As a collaborator on the project to conserve the Chest, Imperial College London investigated how to remove degraded Western varnish from photo-degraded Japanese lacquer and the artificial ageing of lacquerware. Imperial also compared conservation treatments for photo-degraded Japanese lacquer, and considered the effect of consolidant choice on structural integrity. 

Further reading

Crack formation in wooden panel paintings

Imperial College London and the University of Glasgow received funding from EPSRC to research how cracks appear in artwork painted on wood. The research will develop methods for predicting the fatigue lifetime of panel paintings and related cultural heritage. It will therefore help collections to define strategies for efficient environmental control. 

Further reading

Underdrawings 

Imperial and National Gallery researchers have used a new algorithm to help visualise hidden drawings beneath Leonardo da Vinci's Virgin of the Rocks. 

Further reading

Scientific literature

 Image credit: Nanke Schellmann, courtesy of the V&A