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Detail of drapery during cleaning

detail of painted surface showing brushstrokes covering the original painting

Detail of drapery during cleaning

The spots of old retouching were just as obvious on the drapery as they had been on the hands| once all the varnish had been removed. As before, they had been applied to match an already discoloured varnish and during time they also became discoloured.

They had been added during a previous restoration to cover up what may have been considered flaws or blemishes in the paint surface, including the sometimes prominent brushstrokes of underlying paint, for example the swirls of paint at the centre of the sleeve.

In fact these ‘blemishes’ are very much part of Gainsborough's distinctive painting style, which previous generations may have thought looked unfinished or messy.

detail of painted surface, with just the original brushstrokes

Detail of drapery with overpaint removed