Through Works of Art The Adventure of The Civilisations Are Before Us

Academic member of the Istanbul University Faculty of Letters Conservation and Restoration of Movable Cultural Heritage, Associate Professor Gülder Emre told about their works and how the oil paintings that are cultural heritages should be protected.

Stating that the adventure of the civilisation and its phases are perceptibly presented to us through the works of art that reached the present day, Associate Professor Emre attributed the technical success of the production of the works of art to the preservation despite the nature, external factors and corrosion.

“People have been exerting to protect the material residuals of the past with their era’s utilities.”

Expressing that all the works of art are exposed to deterioration in the past that starts with production and ends with dissolution, Associate Professor Gülder: “Here, the notion of restoration and conservation become involved. People, findig new tecniques within their era’s utilities, have been exerting to protect and repair movable and non-movable material residuals of the past that we call cultural heritage.”

“Leaving the painting out in the sun and polishing it with potato slices.”

Giving informations about the restoration techniques that had been used for centuries, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Emre: “When we look at the past resources on oil painting restorations that starts with collecting getting widespread on 17th century, we know that people had practised some techniques in order to protect the paintings but the outcomes were negative. For example, some of the methods that were practised were leaving the painting out in the sun, polishing the painting with potato and onion slices or urine, assuming that the lacquer would leave the surface. However, those methods that were practised unconsciously caused paintings to be spoiled.”

Pointing out to the fact that those restorations create irrecoverable outcomes on the paint coat and the ground of the oil paintings, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Emre: “We know that there were studies called “rantualaj” like laminating to new canvas, completion of fallen pieces, japanning, taking the varnish off in 17th century Italy under the compulsory conditions.It is remarkable that this laminating was even applied to the good works of art as it was kind of a fashion.

“Oil Painting Restoration becomes a field on its own in 20th century.”

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Emre indicated that the oil painting restoration that becomes a field on its own acquired an international dimension via conferences and seminars with the participation of restorators of different nations. He expressed that the different ecoles came into being in the oil painting restoration like in painting art with this example: “Northern European countries has attached the patches with wax by defining their own method of restoration because of the weather conditions and the materials at hand.While the Japanese has preferred to apply the same process with starch and the Russians with fish oil, the English objected intensely the idea of taking the varnish off the painting.

“Our country has started the painting restoration late.”

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Emre stating that our country has started oil painting restoration late as it has met the canvas painting very late by comparison to the Western, he said: “First Turkish Restorators were the artists called ‘Painters of Pera’ and that their ateliers were gathered up in Tunel, Taksim. While these artists were studying for the special collections, Cemal Tollu, Şemsi Arel, Ali Çelebi ve Cevat Dereli restored the pieces from the museum.


Assoc. Prof. Dr. mentioned about the opening of the Laboratory of Oil Painting Restoration with the support of the chancellor of Istanbul University Prof. Dr. Mahmut Ak to protect and restore our cultural inheritance. He also stated that the transfer of documents and works from the past to the next generations has been aimed.

“The Night Watch of Rembrandt will be restored in front of the world.”


Assoc. Prof. Dr. Emre stated that ‘The Night Watch’ of Rembrandt which is one of the most famous paintings of the world will be restored in front of the world.By expressing that the restoration process of this famous painting exhibited in Rijksmuseum of Amsterdam will be live on the internet, he told: “This is very exciting situation in terms of our profession. We will be able to follow the restoration process as online in the internet without interruption. Everybody will be able to watch the restoration, this is great.”

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