By By Harriet A. L. Standeven

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The versatility of modern commercial house paints has ensured their use in a broad range of applications, including the protection and decoration of historic buildings, the coating of toys and furniture, and the creation of works of art. Historically, house paints were based on naturally occurring oils, gums, resins, and proteins, but in the early twentieth century, the introduction of synthetic resins revolutionized the industry. Good-quality ready-mixed products became available and were used by artists worldwide. Such paints pose unique challenges, including the need to establish exactly what materials are present.

This book traces the history of the household paint industry in the United States and United Kingdom over the first half of the twentieth century. It includes chapters on the artistic use of commercial paints and the development of ready-mixed paints and synthetic resins; oil paints, oleoresinous gloss and enamel paints, water paints, nitrocellulose lacquers, oilmodified alkyds, and emulsion paints; and the conservation implications of these materials.

Harriet A. L. Standeven is a freelance conservator specializing in the care of modern and contemporary art.

Getty Conservation Institute publications can be ordered online or by calling 800-223-3431 (United States) or 310-440-7333 (international).