Chinese silk painting conservation: facing, infill losses and lining

Facing is a process to protect the medium of silk painting from moving and damage during the backing removal. Traditionally use Tung oil paper with paste for Facing. Now is more likely to use Rayon paper and Funori for facing. There are two ways to do the facing with Rayon paper and Funori. First method, cut Rayon paper to small sheets (15 x 20 cm) and lay the Rayon paper directly on the face of the silk painting and apply Funori on top of Rayon paper and let the Funori penetrates down to the painting surface; after a layer of small sheet of Rayon papers, a large sheet of Rayon paper put on top of small sheets with either Funori or paste; at last, a sheet of Xuan paper or mulberry paper apply on top of large sheet of Rayon paper. Then you flip it painting’s face down and brush it flat to the table top and start to remove old backing paper. Second method, is reverse of the first, apply Funori or paste to a Xuan paper or mulberry paper; then a large sheet of Rayon paper on top of it and apply Funori; the small sheets Rayon paper next, and apply Funori to top, then take it to the top of a silk painting, and brush it to the face of painting. This way gives more adhesion between facing paper and silk painting.

Second method:

second method

Infill is to use aged silk to mend the silk losses in the painting. There are two ways to do the infill, first is after backing removal, mend from back of the painting. This is good for large losses and faster. Second method is infill losses from front of a painting after new lining paper applied. This way is able to adjust the infill silk’s color to match surrounding background which will be easier to inpainting.

First method: from back of a painting, the infill silk is not lined with paper. First method - from back of a painting, the infill silk is not lined with paper. Second method: from front of a painting, the infill silk lined with thin mulberry paper. Second method - from front of a painting, the infill silk lined with thin mulberry paper.

Lining is to apply paper to the reverse of a painting to give it adequate support; for old painting the color of lining paper also will affect overall tone of the painting. There are couples of ways to add the lining paper to a painting. First apply pasted directly to the back of a painting, which is easier for using Xuan paper as lining paper and for less damaged paintings. Second is to apply paste to lining paper, then lifting the pasted paper and put onto back of a painting, this way is more likely to use mulberry paper for lining and for more damaged paintings.

First method: apply paste direct to reverse of a painting. First method - apply paste direct to reverse of a painting Second method: apply paste to lining paper. Second method - apply paste to lining paper Jing Gao 高竸 - Museum of Fine Art Boston 

Portrait(Jing Gao) 180Cornelius Van der Starr Conservator of Chinese Paintings

Asian Conservation Studio

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 465 Huntington Avenue Boston,

Massachusetts 02115

Phone: 617-369-3422

Email: jgao@mfa.orgYixia Xiao

- Freer Gallery, Washington DC


Chinese painting conservator (1995- present) ; Museum of Fines Arts, Boston, MA

  • Conservation and preservation of Chinese and other Asian paintings
  • Preparation and installation of Chinese painting galleries
  • Assessment income and outgoing loans, and acquisition
  • Courier for outgoing and incoming loans
  • Manage interns and fellow

Asian art conservator (1987- 1995) ; University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, MI

  • Conservation and preservation of Asian paintings
  • Asian galleries rotations
  • Training interns on Chinese scroll mounting

Chinese painting conservator (1973 - 1985) ; Palace Museum, Beijing China

  • Learning Chinese painting conservation and mounting with masters
  • Conservation and remounting paintings on Palace Museum collection

Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI (1991-1995)

  • Studio Art
  • Art History


Yi-Hsia Hsiao 萧依霞

Ikas Portrait-1 (1) 160

     The Andrew W. Mellon fellow in Chinese Paintings Conservation

      Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

      Smithsonian Institution


      PO Box 37012, MRC 707 Washington DC 20013-7012

       Tel: (w) 202-633-0382, (c) 202-629-6320


September 2002 – July 2006 Graduate Institute of Conservation of Cultural Relics Tainan National University of the Arts (TNNUA), Tainan, Taiwan M.A. in Asian Painting Conservation

September 1998 – June2002 Undergraduate Tung-Hai University (THU), Taichung, Taiwan B.A. in Fine Art


January 2013 – Present The Andrew W. Mellon fellow in Chinese Paintings Conservation East Asian Painting Conservation Studio, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian, Washington DC

April 2012 – November2012 Fellow for Korean painting conservation special project Asian Conservation Studio, Museum of Fine Arts, (MFA, Boston) Boston, MA

April 2010 –March 2012 Fellow for preparation of exhibition touring major cities:Japanese Masterpieces Asian Conservation Studio, MFA, Boston, MA

April 2008–December 2008 Project Assistant, Preservation and Digitization Project Acquisition and Preservation Department, Chinese Taipei Film Archive (CTFA), Taipei, Taiwan

December 2006 – March 2007 Conference Coordinator National Center for Research and Preservation of Cultural Properties, Taiwan

April – September 2005 Intern Asian Conservation Studio, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

July – September 2004 Intern Chinese Painting Conservation Studio, National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan

June – July 2004 Collection Registrar Anthropology Department, National Taiwan Museum, Taipei, Taiwan

July - September 2003 Intern Preservation Department, Kaohsiung Museum of FineArt, Kaohsiung, Taiwan