Burnt Paintings are not always lost

Specialists of the Atelier Pracher (AKR Pracher) in Würzburg rescue works of art. The misfortune of a house or room fire represents a traumatic event for the owner. In addition to the great loss of furniture, floor coverings or wall decorations, it is particularly tragic when objects of ideal value, valuable collectors’ items and family heirlooms are damaged or even destroyed. Such works of art, whether paintings, framed family photos or documents have history and are often directly connected with personal memories of the owner. For example, it is particularly important to have these objects checked by a specialist firm for the possibility of recovery when taking stock of the claims settlement.

New Methods

The AteliePracher has developed methods in multiple conservation campaigns that often allow the restoration of objects believed to be lost.

Whether a work of art can be restored depends primarily on the degree to which the layer of paint burns. Once the charring process is largely complete, there is of course no way of achieving a meaningful visual value for the painting.

However, this was not the case in the majority of the works of art examined. For example, strongly oxidized layers of paint interspersed with fire bubbles can be preserved using thermoplastic processing techniques and, after the soot and dirt layers have been removed on all sides, they can be restored with, for example, compressor systems or decontamination envelopes and brought into a presentable condition.

Preliminary condition and final condition after restoration

In the case of framed and glazed furnishings, restoration of the decorative frame may be necessary if it has a subjective or historical value. After framing and cleaning, the back cardboard and passe-partout contaminated with soot particles should always be exchanged and replaced professionally with suitable and resistant cardboard (acid-free, alkaline buffered).

The team of restorers of the AKR Pracher in Würzburg under the direction of the Diplom – Restaurator Univ. Georg F. R. Pracher has specialised in the restoration of fire-damaged works of art and collection objects and is thus active for damage repairers, insurance companies and private clients throughout Europe. In cooperation with Kunsthandlung Wildmeister, which runs its framework workshop in the studio building, it is possible to carry out not only the restoration of paintings and sculptures, but also the conservation framing and repair of framed and glazed objects in a professional manner.