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Question asked 2019-10-23 09:46:39 ...
Most recent comment 2019-10-24 04:27:21
Matting, Framing, and Glazing
A student of mine just asked how she can protect a large cotton canvas from the really high levels of humidity in her new house.
The canvas was passed down to her and it belongs to the family. It is too large to mount on a panel. Because the walls are quite humid in the winter, she fears for the longevity of the painting.
I remember reading suggestions of gilding the back of the canvas of aluminium foil etc. Do you have any suggestion for this problem?
Answers and Comments
If the environment cannot be controlled, we generally
recommend putting a backing board on the back of the stretcher bars to slow
down the suffusion of moisture and buffer the response. The aluminum foil idea
is probably not disastrous, but is no longer recommended. The metal foil is
more likely to be a source of condensation as compared to a cellulosic backing
Additionally, it is always best to keep paintings on the
walls that are within the building proper and not those in contact with the
outdoors. There is far less suffusion of humidity/moisture on interior wall and
the RH would be more stable.
Finally, I am surprised that the humidity is worse in the
winter. Generally the reverse is true due to the effects of the central heating. I
suppose that in southern climates, the air conditioning in the summer would
cause dryness and the lack of air conditioning in the winter months could
I wonder if this is a situation where repair of the installation area might be worth considering, before doing something to the painting. If there is a lot of condensation on the interior, or that much moisture is penetrating the wall, it's surely a significant issue anyway that should be addressed. (*edit* I know this isn't the comment section of the Home Depot website, but as usual, I can't resist stating the obvious!)
Usually, air is more humid during the night than it is during the day. Even if the humidity rises way above 65% at night, that can be okay in terms of mold growth, as long as the space behind a painting can dry during the day, so that mold cannot grow. (see online: Michalski, S. (2004). Risk analysis of backing boards and paintings: damp climate vs cold climate.) If the backing boards have sufficiently big ventilation holes, to allow the moisture to escape then that could be a good solution for your student. This article has simple instructions for mounting backing boards: Backing Boards for Canvas Paintings
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