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'Zennor' 1979, Bryan Pearce, oil on hardboard in artist's original frame.

After conservation and re-framing with Museum glass and the original inscribed backboard, 2020.

"Bryan Pearce’s painting of Zennor is one that’s much loved from the Royal Cornwall Museum collection and we were devastated to see the damage to the frame and back board caused by a flood. In Sarah’s expert hands it has been fully restored and cleaned, reframed and mounted. Thanks to Sarah’s skills and patience, it now looks pristine. We can’t wait to rehang it along with the story of its restoration. Thank you Sarah – an incredible job". 

Bryony Robins, Creative Director, Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro


'Portrait of Emily Treslove', 1826, John Constable R.A., oil on canvas in original frame.

After cleaning and conservation, 2020.

"A family portrait by John Constable that I recently inherited appeared never to have been cleaned or renovated as it had been hanging untouched in smoke filled rooms for nearly 200 years. I had no idea whom I could ask and, most importantly, trust to take on such a specialised task. Serendipity and the internet led me to Sarah Cove who is not only world renowned as a conservator but is also the founder of the Constable Research Project- so the perfect person to take on such a task. She painstakingly took off years' worth of grime, soot and varnish, consolidated and laid any original but lifting paint and flattened small indentations in the canvas. Gradually during this process Emily, a glowingly proud-looking young Regency lady, bedecked, sashed and bowed in delicate pink, emerged from the dark, with each piece of her ornate and flamboyant jewellery flashing and sparkling as it must originally have done when she was first painted. When this process was complete she was gently revarnished, reframed behind Museum acrylic, surrounded by a new gilt slip and protected at the back with a hard backing. She is now ready for another two hundred years and as can be seen from the photograph is beyond stunning”.

Private client, Cornwall

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'Portrait of a Lady aged 20', 1646, Artist Unknown, oil on canvas. 

Before treatment and after conservation in a new frame incorporating the original gilt slip, 2020 

"Sarah unlocked a very nice but seriously dirty painting and transformed her into a gem of a portrait which positively illuminates the room. Sarah’s attention to detail, exquisite cleaning and retouching have turned a ‘wall-flower’ into the girl everyone wants to dance with. I couldn’t be more pleased with the result. My children and grandchildren will owe a debt of gratitude to Sarah Cove".

Private Collection, Cornwall


'Inside the Barbican, Sandwich', Herbert Finn (1860-1942), oil on canvas

Detail of tear from left: before treatment, during retouching and after treatment 2020

"I inherited a Herbert Finn painting from my grandfather that had become dirty since its last restoration in the early 70s. It had also been damaged by children playing in the lounge making a tear which had grown considerably over time. Sarah cleaned and restored it and mended the tear so that it is impossible to tell that it was ever torn. The painting is lighter and brighter and has colours I never knew where there. She also chose a very suitable frame for me as the old frame was no good any more and the whole painting is now like new and fully restored to its original splendour!"

Private Client, Kent


Collection survey, conservation program and budget for the historic collection of the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases (The Min), Bath, including conservation and reframing in studio (above) of 7 paintings for re-display in public areas at the new Brownsword Therapies Centre, RUH, Bath (below), 2017-19

"The old Mineral Water Hospital's 18th century collection of paintings now look utterly transformed. The majority now reside permanently in our new RNHRD Brownsword Therapies Centre. The patients and staff were stunned and couldn't believe their transformation when they returned from your studio. Finding the budget to do this project took a long time and there was a risk that the paintings would need to go into storage indefinitely but luckily this was not the case and no one has looked back since. On behalf of the RNHRD and RUH, thank you".

Hetty Dupays MFA AMRSPH

Art & Design Program Manager, Art at the Heart, RUH NHS Trust, Bath


The Duchess of Cornwall with staff and patients at the opening of the new Brownsword Therapies Centre

(in front of the painting by William Hoare mentioned below, whose frame is being retouched above) Oct 2019

© Art at the Heart, Royal United Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Bath

"I have been a stern critic of the RUH’s take-over of The Min, but I am heartened by the genuine care, expertise and pride the RUH have shown in making the new facility as much like home as they could. The famous William Hoare painting of Dr Oliver’s patients now greets us as we enter the building whose door is guarded by the coat of arms. Wherever we look there are familiar paintings, their eighteenth century faces and gilded frames beautifully restored". 

George Odam

RNHRD patient and former Chair, Friends of The Min


'Harkaway', British School, mid 19th c., oil on canvas.

A photomontage: RHS: During dirt, varnish and overpaint removal

LHS: After cleaning and restoration, 2020

"Sarah Cove has worked her conservation magic on four oil paintings. Each have presented differing problems and challenges allied to the variable condition of the paintings. Without exception, Sarah's expertise, skills and commitment have resulted in conserving and restoring these paintings for the enjoyment of not only the present but future generations. They look and are magnificent".

Private Client, Dorset

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‘Red Roofs’ 1933, Maud Stanhope Forbes, Oil on commercial canvas board

After cleaning and conservation 2016

Re-framed with museum glass and a sealed micro-environment in the original frame

"In 2016, Sarah Cove undertook the conservation of a painting by Maud, 2nd wife of Stanhope Forbes RA of the Newlyn School, a distinguished painter in her own right. Sarah works to the highest standards. She has consummate technical skill as a conservator, underpinned both by a deep understanding of the painting techniques and materials used by the artist and the historical context in which the painting was made. She is also extremely good at explaining how she sets about conserving a picture which made her work a valuable learning experience for me. Her attention to detail was also demonstrated by her work on the original silver-gilt frame and by the care that she took to preserve the information on the rear of the picture. This showed that it had been exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1933 and sold to Walter Langley, also of the Newlyn School. A very satisfied customer".

Private client, Cornwall 


‘Icarus’ 1939, John Armstrong, egg tempera on gessoed plywood

After cleaning and conservation 2016

"Sarah Cove has brilliantly restored a number of fragile tempera paintings by John Armstrong, including a badly damaged painting on a gessoed plywood panel that is an important early example of the Icarus theme in his work. She has carried out sensitive, appropriate and extensive cleaning and conservation of these works, based on a careful and detailed analysis of the medium he used, and provided invaluable advice and support in creating a sealed environment within the framing. She has also provided detailed condition and treatment reports for insurance purposes prior to and following exhibition".

John Armstrong Trust

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Portrait of Olivia Boteler Porter, wife of Endymion Porter

After Van Dyck, English, mid 17th c., Oil on panel

Before treatment (left) and after conservation and reframing in a new purpose-made frame

with Museum glass and protective backing 2016

 "I inherited a family portrait dating back to the 1630's - 'after van Dyck'. Sarah identified it at a NADFAS study day as being relatively unrestored and worth cleaning and conserving. The painting is oil on oak panel and while in quite good condition, showed signs of warping. After Sarah's work, the painting was stabilised and thoroughly cleaned to reveal hidden depths of colour and skin tone. It was reframed using her 'micro-environment' system and should remain in its present glory for generations to come. The quality was so obvious that the painting was used by Bendor Grosvenor to establish the true identity of a missing van Dyck portrait of the same sitter."

Private Client, Hertfordshire


'View of Rochester, Chatham and the River Medway'

British School, Late 17th c., oil on panel, new frame glazed with Museum glass, 2016

"We have had a productive working relationship with Sarah Cove for over a decade and have come to rely on her thoughtful and reliable guidance on condition, conservation and repair of our collections. Her work is exemplary and to the highest museum standards and we appreciate the professional way she organises her business and ensures good communication throughout any project. Sarah's international reputation is highly valued. She has also delivered well-received lectures for us on the conservation of the collection and hosted studio tours for Trustees to view work in progress".

Mrs S.E.P. Threader BEng HonDSc CEng FICE

Bridge Clerk (CEO), Rochester Bridge Trust, Rochester, Kent

Testimonials: Projects
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