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The Independent Online
Noli Me Tangere, by Anton Raphael Mengs, an 18th-century oil panel belonging to All Souls College, Oxford, and undergoing restoration at the Hamilton Kerr Institute, at Whittlesford, outside Cambridge. The walnut panel, turned on its side and supported by a frame, is having its supports renewed so that it can move slightly in response to fluctuations of relative humidity; the cover over Christ's knees is supporting the painting's weakest part.

The institute, a department of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, was established in 1976 specifically for the restoration of oil paintings; it offers an intensive three- year diploma course to about eight postgraduate students, some of whom struggle to pay the fees. The institute is appealing to raise money to form an endowment fund for talented students who are without funds: the J. Paul Getty Trust has given dollars 50,000 towards the fund and promised a further dollars 225,000 if this figure can be matched through fund-raising; the institute must raise the final pounds 40,000 to complete these figures.

Apart from the training, the institute welcomes conservators from other studios to work in partnership on particular research projects: recently it has had inquiries from specialists in Romania needing advice about war-damaged works of art. Both the institute's lecturers and students undertake conservation work for the Royal Collection, the National Trust and private owners.

Recently the institute has been awarded pounds 90,000 by the Leverhulme Trust to allow a researcher to work for three years on the Roberson Archive, a gift to the institute in 1985. The archive includes an almost complete collection of ledgers, materials and test samples from the firm Charles Roberson & Co, which supplied colours and materials to artists during the 19th and early 20th centuries. 'Roberson's Medium' is thought to be the medium of many late 19th-century oil paintings. The firm sought out and made new pigments, kept records of artist's palettes and made brushes to individual specifications: they later marketed the 'Lord Leighton' and 'Helen Allingham' brushes. For further information about the appeal, contact: Ian McClure, Hamilton Kerr Institute, The Mill House, Whittlesford, Cambridge CB2 4NE, telephone 0223 832040.