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Five centuries of British portraiture, material and techniques
c. 1530 – 1960
Sarah Cove Thursday 06 February 2020

This Day of Special Interest describes how paintings were made throughout the ages, looking at the workshop practices of Tudor and Jacobean painters and their meticulous approach to the craft of painting, before the advent of ‘big name’ artists.


We will look at how artists became more prominent in the 18th and 19th centuries and the development of modern readily available materials and how this has affected the ageing of these pictures. The cleaning and conservation of portraits will be described with examples taken from Sarah’s studio, giving a glimpse ‘behind the scenes’ of the work of a modern professional conservator-restorer.


The talk is illustrated with unique images taken from Sarah’s own research and from studio- based conservation treatments. Many less well-known public and privately-owned pictures will be shown alongside works from the National Portrait Gallery and the Suffolk Collection portraits by William Larkin at Kenwood House.

Sarah Cove is an accredited paintings conservator-restorer, technical art historian and lecturer with more than 35 years’ experience working on paintings for the heritage and private sectors. She has appeared in several TV programmes for the BBC notably Constable in Love with Andrew Graham-Dixon and twice on Fake or Fortune? where she was instrumental in the discovery of 3 ‘lost’ Constables. Her presentations are lively and enthusiastic as she speaks without notes.

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