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Cracking and damaged paintings caused by stretcher bars

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Cracking of paintings and damage cause by stretcher bars.

There are 3 types of cracks of Fine Art that are directly related to stretcher bars.

First photograph shows diagonal cracking that will form in each conner, this cracking pattern is very common, and has been recreated in artificial aging tests which have confirmed that they form due to the expanding of the canvass and the ability of the stretcher bars to hold the painting properly.

Second photograph shows a cracking pattern caused by the painting touching the cross bar. This happens because the painting is loose and/or pressure is put on the front of the painting causing it to press against the cross bar, and/or could be the cross bar is not spaced far away enough from the painting.

Third photograph shows a vertical line that goes just inside and parallel to the edges of the painting, that may  or may not be visible on all four sides. Giving the above example the cracking caused by the cross bar. This cracking appears because of the contact with the inside edge of the stretcher bar, as you can see from the photograph this cracking can lead to flacking.

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2 Responses to "Cracking and damaged paintings caused by stretcher bars"
  1. Alex says:

    I agree, the use of good stretcher bars is basic to long term preservation and, being in the business, I can’t say enough about using good stretcher bars. Everything this blog has said about stretcher bars is true and I can tell you, Scott Haskins knows what he is talking about. Our business sells aluminum stretcher bars which are not very traditional, but are well priced and are much superior to wooden stretcher bars. Our website is

    • Scott Haskins says:

      Thanks Alex for your comment. I’d be willing to talk to you about your product. I looked over your website and it was very interesting. Call me at 213 620 9125 so we can discuss.

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