Conservation in Action at Johnstown Castle

During July and August 2019, one of our most valued artworks at Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum & Gardens – the portrait of Hamilton Knox Grogan Morgan and his family by the artist E. T. Parris – was conserved after some deterioration over time.

This important piece of artwork was moved from the Dining Room to the Flag Hall, where Painting Conservator, Pearl O’Sullivan, conserved the painting by removing degrading varnish, filling and retouching while visitors to the castle were able to look on and enjoy ‘conservation in action’.

Over a number of weeks, Pearl removed layers of surface dirt that had gathered on the painting since it was first created in the mid 19th century. Over the years, layers of dust, UV light and gaseous pollutants caused the surface of the painting to become yellowish in colour and the varnish to desaturate, which created a pattern of cracking to appear across the paint surface. Pearl painstakingly removed the surface damage, while simultaneously retouching areas that had deteriorated. She then re-varnished the painting using a conservation grade synthetic resin, which will protect the painting, giving it long-lasting stability for up to 100 years.