Postgraduate Diploma in the Conservation of Easel Paintings, Offer Holder 2021 - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Postgraduate Diploma in the Conservation of Easel Paintings, Offer Holder 2021

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Postgraduate Diploma in the Conservation of Easel Paintings, Offer Holder 2021


Key information

Suggested Materials List

The following items will be used during the Replica-making course which starts at the beginning of term. You are welcome to purchase them on an as needed basis throughout the year, but it might be useful to have them prior to the start of the course. This year, due to social distancing in the studios, it will be more useful than usual to have some of your own tools, to reduce the amount of tool sharing, although we will be ordering extra materials to help with this for the replica course. The tools more specific to treating paintings can be purchased around the Christmas holiday and those are listed in the C&T Handbook (which you’ll receive once you begin). Of the list below, the only thing you really need from week 1 is an apron to protect your clothes.


  • Apron – black or dark-coloured best for conservation but any colour is ok for the first term. Should be washable (in the past, high-end kitchen shops such as Selfridges or online have been best places to look).
  • A few small brushes– small brushes of any type will be used when painting replicas. These can also be brushes used on previous painting courses.
  • Artist’s palette knife– these will be used in mixing pigment in the replica course, and it will be useful to have your own.
  • Tiranti spatula– this is a particular supplier of flexible steel spatulas recommended for filling or mixing paint, and you will almost certainly want to purchase, though not essential for the first term.
  • Optivisor head loupe magnifier – you will probably want to buy your own once you start treating paintings, at end of autumn term/beginning of spring term.
  • Fabric Tool Roll is one way to keep small tools safe – for example those sold as dissection kits, see below.
  • Scissors – suggest one small and one larger pair
  • Tape measure – useful to have your own

Shop locations:

Spatulas (sculptors’ rifflers) for filling can be obtained from

Alec Tiranti Ltd., 27 Warren Street, London W1T 5NB.

Tel: 020 7380 0808

– the Italian, flexible steel ones, nos. 46 or 47, around £10.50 each


Optivisors (head loupe magnifiers), lens no. 3 (x1.75) and 5 (x2.5) most useful, from suppliers to the jewellery trade such as those in Hatton Garden, London:

H.S. Walsh and Sons Ltd., 44 Hatton Garden, London EC1N 8ER.

Tel: 020 7242 3711

Optivisors can also be purchased online. You might need to shop around to find them below £50, or could consider a cheaper brand but Optivisor are tried and tested.


Dissection Kits – the canvas roll, scissors, tweezers and no.3 and no.4 scalpel handles are all useful

John Bell & Croyden, 50 to 54 Wigmore Street,
London, W1U 2AU. Best to call first to check stock.

Online – e.g.


Brushes – for retouching sable brushes are recommended but less expensive brushes should be used for adhesives and other materials, and are all you need initially.

  • London Graphic Centre, 16-18 Shelton Street, London WC2.

Tel: 020 7240 0095


  • Atlantis, Basement, 16-28 Tabernacle St, London EC2A 4DD (entrance on Bonhill St)

Tel: 020 7377 8855


  • Cass Art, 13 Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 0EP (not the biggest branch of this art supplies company, but near to the Courtauld)


  • A.S. Handover Ltd., Unit 8, Leeds Place, Tollington Park, London N4 3RF

Tel: 020 7272 9624

Suggestions for Preparatory Reading

The first term of the course will include teaching about historical painting techniques, technical examination of paintings, deterioration and environmental control and the cleaning of paintings. Prospective students in the past have sometimes asked if there is any reading that they could usefully do before they arrive at The Courtauld.

We have compiled this general reading list to introduce some of these topics if you wish to do this. There is no need to read everything, and you won’t easily find some of the books especially if libraries are closed, but it may be helpful to have a broad understanding of the different areas you will be studying. All the books are available in the C&T Library for your reference and research after term begins; therefore, it is absolutely not necessary or expected that you will purchase any of them. In addition, there is now a great deal of material that can be accessed online, some of which is also listed below.


  • Bomford, D., Dunkerton, J., Wyld, M.: A Closer Look: Conservation of Paintings, (National Gallery London) (2009)


  • Cennino Cennini: “The Artist’s Handbook” (ed. D.V. Thompson).

This book will be referred to in the first weeks of term and will be helpful background reading.

There is a newer version translated and edited by Lara Broecke (Archetype 2015) that is more complete and in depth. It is significantly more expensive but is available in the C&T Library.


  • Hill-Stoner, J.: Conservation of Easel Paintings (Routledge 2012)

This book is an important anthology. It is extremely expensive to buy, but it is included on this reading list in case you know a conservator or library that has it (as a book or electronic format).


  • Nicolaus, K.:  Restoration of Paintings (1999)


  • Bomford, D.:Issues in the Conservation of Paintings (2005 Getty Publications)
  • Price, M. Talley Historical and Philosophical Issues in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage (1996, Getty Publications)

These two Getty books are useful anthologies, but quite expensive to buy and we have copies in the C&T Library so purchasing is not necessary.


  • Wilks, Helen (ed.): Science for Conservators: Vol.1: An Introduction to Materials, 2nd Edition, The Conservation Unit of the Museums and Galleries Commission, (1992)

This is a useful review of areas of chemistry that will be covered in the first year chemistry course.


Online Resources

Many museums’ websites now contain content on conservation and research. A few key ones are listed below:


  • National Gallery London, Technical Bulletin, Vol 1 (1977) – Vol. 36 (2016) online, Vol 37-40 in print only

The National Gallery Technical Bulletins contain a very wide range of articles and give a good idea of the scope of the subject, including technical and scientific aspects, and can be browsed online. Some volumes are dedicated to a particular artist or period and are particularly relevant to the History of Materials and Techniques lectures in the first term, for instance:

Vol 18 – 15-16C Northern European

Vol 20 – van Dyck, Rubens

Vol 34 and 36 – Titian

Vol 35 – Reynolds

The National Gallery website also has other useful features such as videos and research pages in addition to the Technical Bulletins.





  • National Portrait Gallery Research: This website has links to important articles such as those of the Making Art in Tudor Britain project:


In addition to museum websites, the following may be of interest:


  • Khan Academy: These free online videos offer comprehensive and well-taught summaries of concepts in chemistry. They are useful for review as well as comprehension of difficult ideas:


  • Pigments Through the Ages: This website is an excellent resource for understanding the use, production, and chemical composition of many pigments used in different time periods:

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