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Recovering from destruction: the conservation, reintegration and perceptual analysis of a flood-damaged painting by John Martin

Smithen Conservation John Martin paintingThis conference paper describes treatment issues surrounding John Martin’s epic Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum (1821). The painting experienced such extensive structural damage following the 1928 Thames flood that it was considered destroyed. Despite major water damage affecting all layers of the painting and the loss of approximately one-fifth of the canvas, recent examination revealed the work to be in restorable condition. However, the extreme nature of the damages necessitates special ethical and technical considerations with regard to treatment, especially for the reintegration of the large missing portion. A consideration of viewer perception of the digitally simulated options for reintegration and their influence on viewer gaze behaviour, monitored via novel eye-tracking methods, was used to inform the treatment process. (Read More)