Paintings on canvas are vulnerable to being torn, particularly when a protective, rigid backing board has not been installed. The tear repair process is one of the most time-consuming treatments in paintings conservation. Torn paintings are not patched as was once done. The torn yarns are gradually re-woven and the ends re-joined using specialized micro-tools while viewing the area through a binocular microscope.
The reverse of a severe tear is shown here during repair; the outer ends of the tear have already been rewoven and secured as per a German “thread-by-thread” technique refined by Winfried Heiber.
The way a canvas tears depends on many factors including the nature and magnitude of applied force, and the strength and type of the canvas. In turn, cracks and paint losses may be limited or, as shown here, may radiate well beyond the tear line.
The torn painting after tear repair and filling and inpainting of losses.