The Historic Houses Foundation (then Heritage Conservation Trust) supported the restoration of Hagar and Ismael at Doddington Hall. The project was undertaken by Christine Braybrook and Amiel Clarke at the Hamilton Kerr Institute, Cambridge.
The painting is shown here before treatment. Significant areas of non-original paint are present and beneath the upper varnish, a further yellowed varnish layer was found.
A number of challenges were presented during restoration. The overpaint was discovered to be more widespread than anticipated so was removed using a gelled solvent reagent with an adjusted pH to gradually swell the overpaint. This method has proved successful across much of the painting including the figures and the sky however the overpainted blue drapery of Hagar required a different method. A significant amount of damage to the paint layer was discovered during conversation and therefore a notable amount of retouching was required.
A considerable technical and art historical study has taken place alongside conservation treatments. The artist’s technique and pigments have been analysed and these technical discoveries point towards the painting being attributed to Bolognese artist Marcantonio Franceschini. Infrared and X-radiography also revealed numerous artist pentimenti indicating the composition was worked up and altered by the artist during its creation.