Another added benefit is the mixture of light available in the Beverly office, which offsets a perceptual problem called metamerism, in which complex colors look different in various types of light. Gray, for instance, may be a dull color, but it can be made with several mixtures — red and green, blue and orange — each of which looks different depending on the source of illumination.
In the new office, Tysver does retouching in an alcove where he gets light from both a large window and incandescent bulbs in the ceiling.
“The skill of the person that’s doing the retouching is to match the color paint,” Tysver said. “This balance of light here helps us get a middle range.”
Though people can now get degrees in restoration, the firm still trains workers in an apprentice system, which is how Tysver got his start, learning from previous owners Carroll Wales and Constantine Tsaousis.
Wales and Tsaousis, in turn, took over the firm from Fred Oliver, the last member of the founding family to work in the business, who taught them all the techniques the firm had developed over its history.
At any one time, Oliver Brothers has between 50 and 70 restoration jobs under contract, Bishop said, mostly from private clients rather than institutions.
Museums protect paintings by controlling temperature and humidity in their galleries and have in-house staff to address any damage that does occur.
While Oliver Brothers has worked on paintings by many great artists, the firm is just as likely to repair canvases whose only value is sentimental.
“It’s not just people thinking about investments, stocking paintings away for the future,” Bishop said. “In fact, a real important part is the sentiment behind it. People bring things in that they treasure personally.”