A tour guide discusses Sir John Everett Millais Ophelia 1851-2 as part of a private tour

The best way to learn about the technique of an artist is to look closely at the real painting. If you see a reproduction of a painting in a book, it is difficult to imagine the scale, the artist’s use of paint and the colours. Some reproductions show the work of art as brighter, or darker than in reality. By looking really closely at a painting you may see evidence of where an artist has changed the content or composition.

In a gallery, conservators (people who maintain and conserve works of art), study works of art more closely using various techniques that help us understand how an artist painted. They record their findings in writing and in photographs. Conservators keep conservation records for every work of art that the Tate owns. Recent records are also recorded onto a computer.