In the nineteenth century, which is the Danish Golden Age of painting, the industrial revolution introduced a great number of new supports, pigments and binding media in pictorial art. The subject of 19th century painting technique and materials with a focus on Danish Golden Age painting is therefore the focus of Work Package 4.


Lead by

Mikkel Scharff, Associate Professor, M.Sc. in Conservation, Rector at the School of Conservation



Although it has been observed that canvas paintings from the Golden Age has special types of damage, no systematic technical examination of pictorial art from that period has been carried out. Likewise, the conservation and restoration methods applied to Golden Age paintings deserve a systematic examination and investigation.

Canvas sample for the post doctoral research project on Danish Golden Age materials


Description of work

Many of the painters from the Golden Age went on a grand tour to central and southern Europe and learned about the new materials. The impact of these journeys on their painting technique deserves an in-depth investigation, since the typical damage phenomena observed in these paintings could very well be related to the use of new materials and techniques.


Task 1

Layered structure in Danish Golden Age paintings

Investigation of the layered structure in Danish Golden Age paintings and its influence on the choice of conservation methods, including treatment history and early practitioners such as I.P. Møller, conservator at the Royal Painting Collection.

Due to the humidity sensitivity of many 19th century canvas paintings, special precaution must be taken, for instance in connection with relining procedures. A better understanding of the causes of the sensitivity and the methods needed for stabilization will be an objective.

INSTRON tensile testing equipment

Task 2

Innovations in Danish golden age painting

Technical analyses of selected paintings from 1800 to c. 1850 will be carried out in order to make a catalogue of the materials used by the artists of the period. This research will be coupled with multispectral – especially near infrared – analyses of the artists’ oeuvre.


Task 3

Studies of varnish degradation
Little is known about the degradation effects of e.g. different air pollutants on varnishes and how this may affect their long term stability/solubility. Varnishes deteriorate physically and chemically with time. Conservation records at Statens Museum for Kunst may serve as material for the understanding of for instance the applied dammar varnish solutions. Analyses will be made of naturally aged dammar resin varnishes – and synthetic varnishes (e.g. MS2A varnishes). The scope is to develop a best practise for the protection of paintings.
This work package involves measurements of permeability and oxygen uptake in the different varnishes by employing a novel method with optical oxygen sensors which allow measurement of the oxygen concentration through the transparent wall of a closed container and analysis by PY-GC-MS.



  • Ph.D. thesis (Cecil K. Andersen), presentations at conservation conferences,[break]  publication in peer-reviewed journals
  • A publication on the materials and technique of Danish golden age painters,[break]  covering their use of materials and their influences
  • Publication in a journal on polymer chemistry. Presentation at conservation conference
  • Conference on 19th-Century Conservation Practices in Denmark and their effect[break]  on today’s practice and reception of the works of art