Care of Old Paintings by David Curzon


[from George L. Stout; Columbia, 1948]


Decay canít be stopped.  But we can hold it off

by knowledge of how paintings age.

The binding material of pigment is collagen

from bones, skin, tendons, cartilage,

and such organic substances will fail

as they grow old, brittle, infested.

The support develops flaws: fabrics mold,

wood warps, splits along the lines of grain.

Sizing from animal glue can shrink or swell

because of changes in humidity

and even these displacements create their strains.

Housing and transport each has its own problems.

Accidents are apt to cause great damage.

Years of dust accumulate as grime.

A long existence in air darkens the varnish. 

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David Curzon



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