Aviva Burnstock

Aviva Burnstock


Former affiliations
  • Strand, Somerset House

    WC2R 0RN London

    United Kingdom

1984 …2023

Research activity per year

Personal profile


Aviva Burnstock is the Head of the Department of Conservation and Technology at The Courtauld Institute of Art, where she took a PhD (1991) and a Diploma in the Conservation of Easel Paintings (1984). From 1986-1992 she worked in the Scientific Department of the National Gallery, London after a year as a paintings conservator in Australia with the Regional Galleries Association of New South Wales. Her first degree is in Neurobiology (BSc University of Sussex 1981). She was awarded the first Joop Los Fellowship at the Institute for Molecular Physics (AMOLF /FOM) Amsterdam in 2003, and is a Fellow of the International Institute for Conservation (IIC).

Aviva’s research interests include investigation of the materials and techniques used for painting; and characterisation of visual and material changes; the application of new methods for technical study; evaluating methods for conservation practice (for example methods for cleaning paintings); focus on the deterioration and conservation issues for modern oil paint and paintings.

Research interests

  • Technical study of paintings
  • Artists materials and techniques
  • Investigating visual and material change in works of art
  • Developing and evaluation of methods for conservation of paintings

Special Awards, Honours & Distinctions

  • 1st Joop Los Fellow the Department of Molecular Physics (AMOLF), University of Amsterdam (2003-5).


  • ARCHLAB-IPERION award for travel ion for Burnstock, Amato, Cross and Serres to access technical material on paintings by Edouard Manet in the Musee D’Orsay 2018. 



  • Steele Trust award for post in data management (18K ) 2017



  • IPERION Access to non invasive equipment for study of paintings by Edoaurd Manet( 2016/17).



  • IPERION grant for travel to Prado for Burnstock and Cross to investigate works by Francisco de Goya ( December 2015)
  • AW Mellon Conservation Space (15,000 dollars US) 2014-15.
  • Further US$50 K for work until December 2019.


  • CMOP (Conservation of Modern oil paints) Heritage plus AHRC grant  October 2015.


  • British Academy small research grant for investigation of Mark Gertler’s paintings 2015


  • CDP Tate British Acrylic paints history and use
  • Getty Scholar  (GCI research modern oil paints). 
  • Clothworkers Junior Fellowship  to release Maureen Cross for conservation of the Gallery’s Dejeuner Sur l’herbe by Ediouard Manet (35,000 pounds) 
  • AW Mellon Conservation Space (15,000 dollars US) 
  • CMOP (Conservation of Modern oil paints) Heritage plus grant (Salary for one half a day per week for 18 months plus travel costs) from October 2015. 
  • CDP Tate British Acrylic paints history and use, PhD student Patricia Smithen from October 2015. 


  • CDP/AHRC collaborative PhD (withTate)  (2013) Modern British Oils: history, formulation and use. 
  • Synchrotron beamline ESRF Grenoble, access for micro XRD and XRF analysis: two six day visits funded (February and April 2013). 
  • A.W. Mellon award for Courtauld participation in Conservation Space ($30,000) 2012-13. 


  • Clothworkers Junior Fellowship (to release of Pippa Balch for undertaking c Review of Trade in Artists’ Materials, The Picture Restorer, no 39 Autumn 2011, 49-53onservation of an altarpiece by Gerino di Pistoia from the Courtauld Gallery ( 2011) c.£65, 000 over two years awarded start November 2011. 
  • CHARISMA/MOLAB transitional access award for non-invasive technical study of works by Bernardo Daddi in the Courtauld Gallery (2011). Awarded at no cost to the Institute.  
  • British academy grant for travel and analysis of works by Bernardo Daddi £7,500. 


  • A.W Mellon Master of the Fogg Pieta/ Maestro di Filigne Project  
  • A.W.Mellon Officer’s Grant $US 18,000 
  • A.W.Mellon Project Grant   $US 300,000 
  • A.W.Mellon Officers Grant – extension $US 48,000 
  • British Academy Conference Support £4673.00  
  • MOLAB grants awarded (work completed 2008). 
  • Support for 1-2 two student research projects per annum from 2006- current (travel, accommodation, living stipend for 3-6 weeks) from ICN Amsterdam,  For one student: Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam (2006-9), Gulbenkian Museum Lisbon (2005-7).  

Grants for Equipment 

  • Digital X ray unit - Sir Robert Bruce Gardner appeal £110,000 (2019)
  • Loan of Scanning XRF from Delft Technical University ( August and September 2015) 
  • Long term loan and maintenance Bruker XRF (donated by Bruce Kaiser) 2013 
  • £36,000 from the Clothworkers Foundation for microscope and digital capture system (2010).  
  • £6000 from the Idlewyld Trust for a  spectrophotomether (2010)  
  • $US 50,000 (private donors) for an X-radiographic system for paintings  (2008)  
  • Central Research Fund of the University of London (CRF) : £5000 for new detector for energy dispersive X-ray Spectrometer – installed on an electron microscope at KCL (Physics) 1996.  



  • The PG Diploma in the conservation of easel paintings
  • BA History of Art Year 1: Physical History of works of art
  • Graduate Diploma in History of Art: Physical History of works of art

PhD Students


  • Silvia Amato: Combined Scanning Multispectral Infrared Reflectography and Macro-X-ray Fluorescence: an innovative approach to the study of materials and technique of five paintings by Édouard Manet at the Courtauld Gallery
  • Patricia Smithen (from October 2015) CDP Tate, Preliminary title: The production and use of acrylic paints in Britain, co supervised with Dr Bronwyn Ormsby, Tate.
  • Amarilli Rava – Consolidation of earthen supports in wall paintings (with Emma Richardson, UCL from 2018)

  • Sreekumar Menon - Materials, history and use of Early Buhddist wall paintings from the Ladak region 900-1400 (with Emily Howe, from 2019).



Recently completed

  • Alexandra Gent Repetition and Replication in Sir Joshua Reynolds’s Studio Practice, with Prof David Solkin, 2019.
  • Rachel Mustalish Preliminary title: Materials and meaning:  Arthur Dove’s works on paper 2019.
  •  Emilie Froment The effects of wax-resin lining on large scale seventeenth century paintings in the Royal Palace Amsterdam, co supervised with Prof Ella Hendriks, University of Amsterdam (2019)
  •          Jacek Olender Gecko adhesives in conservation (from 2018)
  • Judith Lee: Collaborative Doctoral PhD with Tate (co-supervised with Bronwyn Ormsby) Preliminary title: ‘Investigating water sensitivity of Modern oil paints made by British manufactured paints by Winsor & Newton’.
  • Yasmin Amaratunga (jointly supervised with Julian Stallabrass) ‘The influence of new materials and conservation on the value of ephemeral contemporary art’. Yasmin is expected to submit her thesis in Spring 2015.
  • Caroline Rae: Leverhulme supported collaborative PhD at Courtauld Institute Art and the National Portrait Gallery ‘Anglo-Netherlandish Workshop Practice in the 1580s and early 1600s with a focus on the works of John de Critz the Elder and Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger’. Caroline is due to submit her thesis in March 2015.
  • Elisabeth Reissner (with Prof Paul Smith, University of Warwick) ‘Technical study within Art Historical Scholarship: ‘Meaning in Making’ with particular reference to the works of Paul Cézanne’. Elisabeth is due to submit her thesis in February 2015.
  • Mark Richter, ‘The use of coloured glazes in Baroque churches in Bavaria, c1700-1800’ (2012)
  • Maria Kokkori,  ‘Making and meaning: Materials and Techniques of selected paintings by Malevitch and Popova from the Costakis Collection, Salonica’, co-supervised by Prof. Chris Green (2007)
  • Austin Nevin, ‘LIFS for analysis of proteins from works of art’, Marie Curie Scholarship holder, FORTH Crete PhD, co-supervised with Prof. Sharon Cather (2007)
  • Stephanie Constantine

Professional Affiliations

  • International Institute for Conservation (IIC)
  • International Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material (ICOM)
  • Association of British Picture Conservators & Restorers (ABPCR)
  • Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material (AICCM)
  • Conservation Scientists Group
  • Conservation Teachers Group

Education/Academic qualification

The application of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to the examination of painting materials with special reference to cleaning and blanching., The Courtauld Institute of Art

… → 1991

The Courtauld Institute of Art

… → 1984

University of Sussex

… → 1981

External positions

National Gallery, London


Regional Galleries Association of New South Wales


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