An art restorer is like a neurosurgeon that has no margin for error. If you choose the wrong solvent to remove old varnish, you can accidentally remove age-old paint from the canvas. Restoration can’t be rushed and you have to be really careful while doing it. This is why it may take 6 months to restore just 1 inch of a painting.

We at Enlighten were really fascinated to see how art restorers bring a new life into old masterpieces and want to share some of the results of their efforts in this compilation.

Woman in Red (1618) was under a thick layer of varnish for 200 years until Philip Mould removed it and showed the world what it looked like 400 years ago.

philipmould / Twitterphilipmould / Twitter

The restorer uses a special solution that washes off the varnish but doesn’t damage the paint.

philipmould / Twitter

Thanks to a restorer, this dark and gloomy portrait of twin sisters from the nineteenth century is shiny again.

Baumgartner Restoration / YoutubeBaumgartner Restoration / Youtube

Christ by Jan van Hemessen (the sixteenth century) was too provocative. It was painted dark and the clothes were added. Today, we can see the original again.

Sotheby’s / Youtube

The portrait of Isabella Romola de Medici (the sixteenth century) was almost destroyed as a “fake” because a nineteenth-century restorer changed it beyond recognition.

Carnegie Museum of Art / YoutubeThe portrait after the restoration in the nineteenth century (left) vs the restored original (right)

This painting by Valerian Babadin (during the nineteenth — twentieth century) came in for restoration in terrible condition. The restorer fixed the canvas and the base of the frame. / Pikabu

The portrait of Princess Henrietta of England (1665) was restored from old varnish and dirt, and all the damages were fixed.

Ben Everett / Youtube

A late eighteenth-century portrait of a girl was restored from the old layer of varnish, so now the painting is as light as it was supposed to be.

Ben Everett / Youtube

“The lost Charles Dickens portrait (1843) as we first encountered it from a sale of knick-knacks in South Africa — it was saved from the effect of mold.”