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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Keep Your Artwork Safe from Water Damage

9/27/2021 (Permalink)

Photo of Giorgio Vasari's The Last Supper. Pictured above is Vasari's The Last Supper, not to be confused with Da Vinci's painting of the same name. Photo via The Florentine.

Whether it’s something you created or a beloved heirloom passed down from one generation to the next, artwork enhances our homes, which is why it’s important to protect it. Water damage is a leading cause of damage on art pieces, especially canvas paintings. If the water sits long enough to turn into mold, the damage done is typically irreparable. 

Except in one famous case involving one very famous work of art

Another Look at The Last Supper

Following the worst flood Florence, Italy has ever experienced, Giorgio Vasari’s masterpiece, The Last Supper, completed in 1546, was considered destroyed. The flood waters, which had been accumulating throughout October and November of 1966, burst into Florence, dumping water and sewage across 7,000 acres of the city, including 600,000 tons of mud and other detritus. 

According to the Getty Foundation’s Antoine Wilmering, “During the flood, The Last Supper was submerged in a slurry of water, mud, and heating oil for over twelve hours, which softened the paint and saturated the wooden support structure. When the sludge receded, some of the paint and gesso migrated with it toward the bottom of the painting.”

Rather than consider it a lost cause, a team of specially trained art conservation professionals spent a decade restoring the painting to its original glory, returning it to the Museum of the Opera of Santa Croce in Florence in 2016, 50 years after the flood did its damage. 

Save yourself the headache of an art restoration undertaking by following these steps to store your artwork properly, keeping it safe and sound from the elements, pests, and everything in between. 

  1. Store canvas paintings away from sunlight, which can cause fading over time.
  2. Cool and dry is key; make sure the storage space is climate controlled, if possible, to protect the canvas against mold and mildew.
  3. Keep your artwork away from the floor, not only to avoid a major water damage incident, like a flood, but because moisture can leak in and cause the canvas to warp.
  4. Mirror boxes make excellent storage spaces, but ensure that they are stored high off the ground.

If you experience water damage in your home, contact your team of water repair and restoration experts at SERVPRO of Haverhill.

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