Apprisal of Chinese Scroll


The decision on conservation and restoration of a Chinese painting on silk and paper is based on the type of damage (superficial or structural), the cause (fire, flood or mishandling) and the scope of damage (severe or marginal).

Conservation and restoration have a deep impact on value not matter what types of value we are talking about.

Restoration Guidelines
The restoration of a precious painting on silk and paper can be very risky if they restorer does not follow the traditional methods or lack the necessary knowledge of the treatment. Not only the restorer’s understanding of the painting medium (silk, paper, satin) but also his hand-on experience on identifying the physical features of the medium (age, structure, strength and weakness) in question are at play.
• Don’t restore your scroll painting unless it is necessary. If the painting is not in a severely deteriorated or damaged condition, don’t restore it. Unless you know what you are doing, or have a general knowledge of Chinese aesthetics on mounting styles and restoration methodologies, you may run into many obstacles.
• A failed restoration often dents the economic value of a painting.
• A repeated restoration should be avoided, since the treatment of the medium would default the medium’s original texture, surface color, casting doubt on originality.


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Most artworks are susceptible to deterioration from light, humidity, temperature, insects, dust, salt and vibration as well as the dents, knocks, chips and tears that come from contact with human beings. Therefore, keep your scroll painting out of direct sunlight and reduce artificial lighting where possible
Humidity: keep your scroll paintings in humidity between 40%-60%, avoid fluctuating changes in humidity to reduce the possibilities of mold and insect damage.
Temperature: avoid extreme of temperature change in the space where your artwork is on display
Dust: keep artwork free of dust. Dust on the surface of a painting on silk or rice paper with a soft cloth or feather if necessary
Salt: In the air encourages corrosion. Use air conditioner to reduce the danger
Vibration: avoid transporting scroll painting without compensating for vibration by careful packing and support
Contact with Human: avoid touching the surface of a scroll painting with the hands, which will speed the color deterioration
Presentation and Storage: Hanging the painting on interior walls rather than exterior wall, and place it on a flat, dry and pest-free surface if not hanging.


Before commissioning a conservation or restoration treatment, owners should have some basic knowledge of restoration about what can be and what cannot be done. A preventive treatment could (most of the time) avoid future more invasive treatment on a painting.

In regard to condition, the more restoration, the lower the value of the piece. A bad restoration treatment will decrease the economic value of a painting. To undo a previous restoration is equally risky, since the reversed restoration may bring more physical harm to the already damaged painting. In other words, the economic value of a reversed restored work would be even lower than the actual price a painting with some visible condition signs.


If the needed conservation is postponed, the greater harm the physical damage brings to the object, and the greater the loss in value in all aspects. In a short amount of time, not having a painting conserved may have been the best decision regarding loss in value for insurance purpose. However, after only a few years, the painting would have suffered irreversible damage.

If a conservation and restoration is necessary, consulting a qualified Asian art scroll restorer before executing the conservation is wise. Owners should start with a conservation proposal from a conservation specialist or a lab. The proposal must detail what would be most appropriate to treat the damaged painting and the extent of the conservation, the restoration cost vs. the replacement cost. Owners must understand the limitations and consequences of conservation and restoration, whether it will look as if it had never been damaged, or if that outcome is simply not possible because the piece has gone through too much and some traces are not erasable.