Contact details

Department of Conservation & Technology

The Courtauld Institute of Art

Somerset House


London WC2R 0RN


Tel: +44 (0) 20 7848 2190

Fax: +44 (0) 20 7848 2878


Christina Young is a reader in easel painting conservation and conservation science at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London.  Christina supervises structural conservation treatments for both canvas and panels, and is active in research in fatigue and fracture of paintings, non-invasive monitoring techniques, methods/materials for structural conservation, the conservation of modern and contemporary art, and the significance of scenic art.

Christina Young has a BSc in Physics from Imperial College (ICSTM) and an MSc in Applied Optics. Following industrial research in the development of optical instrumentation she returned to ICSTM in 1993 as a Research Assistant in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. In 1994 she was awarded the Gerry Hedley Research Scholarship and gained her PhD in the “Measurement of the biaxial tensile properties of paintings on canvas" in 1996. Before joining The Courtauld she was Leverhulme Research Fellow at Tate Britain between 1997-2000. In 2010 she was a visiting Getty Scholar at the Getty Conservation Centre, Los Angeles. Since May 2013, she has been made a visiting academic at Imperial College, London.

research interests


  • Assessment and development of methods and materials used for the structural conservation treatments of canvas and panel paintings; this includes lining, tear mending and panel joining.

  • History of Scenic Art in the UK and an examination of the role of fine artists as scenic designers and scenic artists.

  • The history and design of fabric supports
    See PDF of exhibition brochure  
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  • Interlaminar fracture detection, fatigue and adhesion processes in multilayer mixed media paintings.  Its aim is to gain understanding of the mechanical deterioration of easel paintings and the effects of environmental conditions.

  • Developing methodologies for assessing the physical properties of conservation materials e.g. Glass transition and bulk mechanical properties.

  • Non-destructive optical methods of analysing canvas and panel paintings. The equipment developed over the past 14 years, combining biaxial testing and Electronic Speckle Pattern Interferometry, has provided a unique capability for conservation research. This is housed in the basement of the west wing in Conservation & Technology Dept. (More information in the department's Research webpage).


Current and recent research projects


  • Painted Cloths: Scenic Art as Fine Art from the C14th-C21st. This project explores the use painted cloths as scenic art. The research focuses on change of context and significance of painted cloths from the C14th to the C21st in a theatrical context exploring their different function, materials, method of creation.

  • Interlaminar fracture detection, fatigue and adhesion processes in multilayer paint systems. This projects involves mechanical adhesion testing, computer modelling of visco elastic fracture mechanisms. This research is in collaboration with the Strength of Materials Group at Imperial College, London

  • Anslem Kiefer: The Nature of Transformation. The research identified the materials and methods used by Kiefer since the 1980’s using existing documentation from Tate, the Guggenhiem, and the White Cube archive and collection of Kiefer’s paintings. The project explored the transformation of these works and degree to which this relates to the artists’ philosphy. The first phase of the project was successfully completed in January 2012 , and the research is continuing. Further information

  • Getty Visiting Scholarship research conducted at CIA (2009/2010) and the GCI (2010). It is an experimental investigation into the relationship between thermo-mechanical methods of measuring the glass transition temperature (Tg), and the direct measurement of mechanical properties across the glass transition region using bulk mechanical testing.

  • AHRC/EPSRC Design for the C21st Century “Modelling, Design and Measurement of  Modern Textiles for Conservation. In collaboration with Warwick University. 2007-2009.

  • The Physical Properties of Modern Media in collaboration with Tate and ICSTM.

  • Characterization of the Alterations Induced by UV Laser Radiation on the Pigmented Oil layers in Nineteenth Century Paintings on Canvas in collaboration with R&D ISQ - Instituto de Soldadura e Qualidade, PORTUGAL.  Evaluation of the physical properties of adhesives used for the repair of wood panel paintings

  •  EPSRC funded project: “Investigations Into the Adhesive Bond and Transfer of Tension in Lined Canvas Paintings” in collaboration with Tate.


Courses taught in 2011-12


  • Conservation issues for contemporary and modern art
  • Approaches to research
  • Basic physics: colour theory/ optics/ digital imaging & processing/ graphical representations and statistics / mechanics
  • Deterioration of paintings
  • Materials for conservation
  • Practical workshops on the structural conservation of canvas and panel paintings
  • Preventive conservation theory and in-situ survey
  • Structural conservation theory- canvas and wood
  • Theory and practice of cleaning




S. Tantideeravit, M.N. Charalambides, D.S. Balint & Young C.R.T., Prediction of Delamination in Multilayer Artists Paints, Engineering Fracture Mechanics, in press.

Young C.R.T., The Use of 3D ESPI for the Structural Analysis of Paintings on Canvas, LACONA IX Conference, London, 2013, 108-115. ISBN 978-1-904982-87-6

Young C.R.T., Glass Transition Interpretation for Canvas Paintings, ICON Paintings Group Meeting, London, Archetype Books 2012.

Bordalo R., Morais P.J. , Young C. R.T., Santos L.F., Characterisation of Laser-induced Physical Alterations of Pigmented Oil Layers, e-Preservation Science 9, Nov. 2012, 47-59

Young CRT., History of Fabric Supports, chapter in Conservation of Easel Paintings, eds. J Hill Stoner & R. Rushfield, Publishers Routledge Oct 2012 Hb:978-0-7506-8199-5

Young CRT, Jardine S., Fabrics for the Twenty First Century: as Artist Canvas and for the Structural Reinforcement of Easel Paintings on Canvas, Studies in Conservation, DOI 10.1179/2047058412Y.0000000007.

Sanders K., Harrison L., Higgit C., Young CRT., Purely decorative? Technical analysis of a fifteenth-century Northern European parade shield, IIC Congress Vienna Postprints Sept 2012. pp 268-278. DOI 10.1179/2047058412Y0000000019.

Young CRT., Predicting Practical Properties of Unfilled and Filled Adhesives from Thermomechanical Data, CCI Symposium - Adhesives and Consolidants for Conservation: Research and Applications Preprints, Ottawa 2011.

Young CRT., New B., Marchant R., Experimental Evaluation of Adhesive Gap Filler Combinations for Joining Panel Paintings, invited paper for the Getty Symposium on Panel Paintings 2009, Proceedings, Getty Publications, Oct 2011, pp125-139.

Bordalo R., Morais PJ., Santos LF., Almeida, R. M., Young CRT. , The Effect of Excimer Laser Irradiation on Historical Pigments, accepted for Preprints ICOM-CC Congress, Lisbon, Sept. 2011.

Hagan, E.,  Charalambides M., Young CRT., Learner T., and Hackney S., The viscoelastic properties of latex paint films in tension: influence of the inorganic phase and surfactants, Progress in Organic Coatings, in press.

Blessley K, Young CRT, Nunn J., Coddington J., Shepard S., The Feasibility of Flash Thermography for the Examination and Conservation of Works of Art, Studies in Conservation, June 2010.

Hagan E., Charalambides M., Young CRT., Learner T., Hackney S., Tensile Properties of Latex Paint Films with TiO2 Pigment., Journal of Mechanics of Time-Dependent Materials, 2009, 13, 2,pp 149-161.

Young CRT., Hagan E., Cold Temperature Effects of Modern Paints Used for Priming Flexible Supports, In Preparation for Painting, Townsend, J., Doherty, T., Heydenreich, G., Ridge, J. (eds.). Archetype Books, London, pp 172-179, 2008.

Carlyle L., Young CRT.,  The Mechanical Response of Flour Paste Grounds, In Preparation for Painting, Townsend, J., Doherty, T., Heydenreich, G., Ridge, J. (eds.). Archetype Books, London, pp 123-131, 2008.

Young CRT., Interfacial Interaction of Modern Paint Layers, Modern Paints Uncovered,  Postprints Tate/ Getty/ NGA Symposium 2006,  pp 247-256.

Hagan E., Charalambides M., Learner T., Murray A., Young CRT., Factors Affecting the Mechanical Properties of Modern Paints, Modern Paints Uncovered, Postprints Tate/ Getty/ NGA Symposium 2006, Getty Publications, 2007, pp 227-235.

Bordalo R.Morais., P J., Gouveia H., Young CRT., "Laser Cleaning of Easel Paintings: an overview," Laser Chemistry, Sept. 2006.

Young CRT., Developing Mechanical Tests to Evaluate Consolidation Treatments on Canvas Paintings, 3rd International Congress Colore e Conservazione Proceedings, Il Prato, Italy 2008, pp 71-78.

Theodorakopoulos C., Fotakis C., Boon J.J., Young C. et al, A Study of the Oxidative Gradient of Aged Traditonal Trierpenoid Resins Using Optimum Photo-abalation Parameters, Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Lasers in the Conservation of Artworks (LACONA V), 2005, Physics 100, pp 255-262.

Young CRT, Keynote Paper: Accelerated Ageing of Fabric Supports: Is it Possible?, AHRB Textile Conservation Centre Conference Post Prints, Oct 2005, Archetype Books, pp 111-116.

Young CRT., Debashis M., Using ESPI to Characterise the Mechanical Behaviour of Paintings on Canvas., accepted for 12th International User EPSI Group Meeting, Germany Oct., 2005.

Young CRT, Gregg R., Hibberd R, Learner T., Poster Summary: The Physical Properties of Modern Commercially Available Primings and their Interaction with the Subsequent Paint Layers. IIC Conference Preprints, Sept. 2004, pp224.

Dimond J., Young CRT, Reducing Cupping without Lining?, Preprints of the UKIC Alternatives to Lining Conference, Sept. 2003, pp 29-34.

Young CRT, The Mechanical Requirements of Tear Mends, Preprints of the UKIC Alternatives to Lining Conference, Sept. 2003,pp 55-58.

Carr JD., Young CRT, Phenix A, Hibberd RD., Development of a Physical Model of a Typical 19th Century English Canvas Painting, Studies in Conservation, 48, 3, 2003, pp 145-154.  

Young CRT., Ackroyd P., Hibberd R., Gritt S.,  Adhesives for the Repair of Wood Panel Paintings: An Evaluation of their Physical Properties, National Gallery Technical Bulletin, 23,  April 2002, pp 83-96.

Young CRT., Hibberd R., Ackroyd P., An Investigation Into the Adhesive Bond and Transfer of Tension in Lined Canvas Paintings, Preprints ICOM-CC, Sept. Congress 2002, pp 370-378.

Young CRT., Ackroyd P., The Change in the Mechanical Response of Easel Paintings to Three Typical Lining Treatments, National Gallery Technical Bulletin, 22,  April 2001, pp 85-104.

Young CRT., Hibberd R., The Role of Attachments in the Degradation and Strain Distribution of  Canvas Paintings, International Institute of Conservation, Congress 2000 Preprints, pp 212-220.

Young CRT., Hibberd R., Measurement of the Two-dimensional Strain Distribution of Paintings on Canvas using Electronic Speckle Pattern Interferometry, Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Non-destructive Testing and Microanalysis for the Diagnostics and Conservation of the Cultural and Environmental Heritage ART’99, Rome, May 1999.

Ackroyd P., Young CRT. Preparation of Artist’s Canvases: Factors That Affect Adhesion Between Ground and Canvas, Preprints ICOM-CC, 1, 1999, pp 265-270.

Young CRT., Hibberd R., A Comparison of the Physical Properties of Nineteenth Century Canvas Linings with Acid Aged Canvas, Preprints ICOM-CC , 1, 1999, pp 353-360.

Young CRT., Measurement of the Biaxial Properties of Nineteenth Century Canvas Primings using Electronic Speckle Pattern Interferometry, Optics and Lasers in Engineering Special Edition , 31, 2, 1999, pp 163-170.

Young CRT.,  Towards a Better Understanding of the Physical Properties of Lining Materials for Paintings: Interim Results. The Conservator, 23, 1999, pp 83-91.

Young CRT., Hibberd R.,  Biaxial Tensile Testing of Paintings on Canvas. Studies in Conservation, 44,2,1999, pp 129-141.

Shepard J. Young CRT, A Preliminary Study into the Suitability of Femtosecond Lasers For the Removal of Adhesive from Canvas Paintings. Proceedings of Fifth International Conference and Euroconference on Optics Within Life Sciences OWLSV, 1998.

Young CRT., Quantitative Measurement of In-plane Strain of Canvas Paintings using ESPI. Proceedings of the Institute of Physics Applied Optics and Optoelectronics Conference Brighton. March 1998, pp79-84.

Young CRT., Measurement of the Biaxial Tensile Properties of Paintings on Canvas. PhD Thesis, Imperial College, University of London. 1996.

Young CRT., Biaxial Properties of Sized Cotton-Duck. ICOM-CC Preprints 11th Triennial Meeting Edinburgh 1, 1996, pp 322-331.



Conservation, Paintings, Structural, Non-invasive, Canvas, Panel, Adhesives, Modern and contemporary, Mechanics, ESPI