When a painting is catastrophically damaged often the assumed choice is whether or not to save the piece. For the conservator it is not a question of if or can the painting should be saved, rather it's how to save it.
In this video Julian Baumgartner of Baumgartner Fine Art Restoration in Chicago shares how a painting of Mary that had been split into four pieces is fully conserved and restored. Using both traditional and modern approaches, archival and fully reversible materials, slowly but surely the piece is saved. All of the work is stable and can be removed in the future if ever so desired.
One of the challenges that the conservator often faces is before being able to embark upon the work of restoring the painting the old conservation attempts and materials must first be addressed. That is, before the "do" comes a lot of "undo." Unknown materials and motives can be frustrating and difficult to address yet with experience and resources these can be overcome.
This is the narrated version of the original video. Many of the questions that were asked in the YouTube comments section are addressed here.