One of the things we are told by antiques experts time and time again in their lists of what and what not to do is to leave well alone. How often are valuable bronzes presented at the Antiques Roadshow looking shiny and new, only for the owners to be told by the expert who is valuing the object that it is the patina that gives the impression of age and that is what people want. Yet, in the 1960s, a lot of brown antique furniture was painted white to fit in with the more minimalist look of the time. Much in the way of Victorian pine furniture went along this route and there has been a great deal of stripping it all back and replacing patinas with Briwax since.
There is a good stock of French Rococo Revival antique furniture that is painted and presented as turn of the century shabby chic to the marketplace and no-one seems to complain much about that. In fact, it is almost encouraged. Repro examples are described as: ‘having an exquisite antique French finish’ to something that was obviously painted to emulate the way it would look now if painted at the time of manufacture or shortly afterwards, as it is the rubbed look of the paintwork that is considered attractive to the marketplace.
Of course, if we should dare to paint a Regency mirror for example, that would be another matter. This would immediately affect the value of the piece, as any removal of the paint would also take away years of accumulated patina.
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