Come visit us at our new studio at 196 West 29th Suite B Holland, Michigan. We’re a high quality restoration studio providing services for artwork, furniture, and other treasured objects. We also produce museum-quality custom frames. Please call us for an appointment.

Member American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.

Two Cora Bliss Taylor Portraits of One Sitter

These two portraits by Cora Bliss Taylor (1889-1986) are of the same sitter, and we believe they were painted around twenty years apart. The first in the photographs is the younger portrait. A dry paint film has led to some chips and losses, and there are more on the way, but it’s fascinating to see the similarities between the two versions, particularly the facial features and how the artist rendered them over the passage of time. The older portrait also suffers from a dry paint film that has chipped in places. The unique aspect of this painting is that it was originally a full-length portrait of the sitter, but was cut, and the photographs show the losses along this cutline. Stay tuned for more …

Cora Bliss Taylor was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on April 14, 1889. Her father was a veteran of the Civil War and passed away when she was 1 years old. During her childhood, the family traveled around the United States, and France when she was 11 years old, which is where she received her first art lessons.

Cora visited Saugatuck, Michigan, which was to become her home, on her honeymoon in 1914, with her husband, James W. Taylor, a Chicago attorney. She studied painting at the Art Institute of Chicago with Leon Kroll and Leopold Seyffert; Charles W. Hawthorne, Provincetown, Massachusetts; Andre L. Hote in Paris; Morris Kantor, Art Students League, New York; and Vance Kirkland, Denver University. She was a contemporary of Georgia O’Keefe.

Mrs. Taylor won the Chicago Woman’s Aid Prize, Edward B. Butler Prize, and Fine Arts Building Prize from the Art Institute of Chicago where she exhibited a number of times. She also was accepted for a number of exhibitions at the Detroit Museum of Arts and won several prizes, including the American Association of University Women’s prize for her watercolor, “Abandoned”. In 1945, she won Honorable Mention for a painting exhibited at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. She exhibited at the Chicago Galleries Association and other private galleries. Cora was a member of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters, and is listed in the original edition of “Who’s Who of American Women”.

In 1931, she founded the Taylor Art School on Holland Street in Saugatuck, a summer art school, with visiting instructors. The Taylor Art Gallery attracted 2,000 visitors who signed the guest register that first year. In 1931, as Art Director of the Saugatuck Chamber of Commerce, she was instrumental in attracting many Chicago people to the Saugatuck area. Mrs. Taylor continued to teach painting for many years, specializing in children. Quite a few of her students went on to make a career in art.

Her paintings are hanging at Hope College, Holland, Michigan; Saugatuck Masonic Lodge, Chicago Public Schools, a number of Women’s clubs, Emerson Unitarian Church, Houston, Texas; Sheridan Public Schools, Sheridan, Texas; and many private homes in Chicago, Western Michigan, and other areas of the country.

Cora Bliss Taylor passed away at the age of 97 on April 21, 1986.

Cora Bliss Taylor, center with hat, circa 1941.

 

L. Stepano River Scene

This oil painting by L. Stepano (20th Century) came in with a stubborn type of varnish. This was likely applied at some point to cover the numerous cuts across the surface, that were waiting for us once we removed the varnish. Using our gel system, a more robust cleaning method, we were able to remove the varnish. Careful cleaning then removed the surface contaminates and brightened the colors, which was a step in the right direction but also made the cuts more prominent. In-painting was then used to conceal them, and this was followed with new, conservation varnish. These last two steps will be repeated again to finish the restoration.

Unfortunately there is very little biographical information about L. Stepano. We know that he was an American artist from the 20th Century, and one of his paintings, Cattle In A Landscape, went to auction in 2017, having come from the estate of James Rees, the former President and Chief Executive Officer of George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

Don Smit Three Seascape Paintings

These paintings were done by Don Smit, who studied under Charles Vickery, an artist whose works we’ve had the pleasure of restoring and appraising.

All three paintings are troubled with mold invasions. On the first painting, the smallest, the mold has infected the backing, which is also delaminating. We are currently in the process of removing it. The other two were done on artists boards, and are in good condition. We’ll adhere new linen to the first painting, using a heat press which also has the benefit of making the canvas flat. If you look at the pictures of the last painting, you’ll notice it’s canvas has bowed along the edges. We’ll apply honeycomb backing, which has the strength to return it to plane. Molds will be treated through tenting, and the surfaces carefully cleaned. Conservation varnish will finish the restorations. Stay tuned for more…

Gabor Peterdi, The Burning Bush

This painting, The Burning Bush, by Gabor Peterdi (1915-2001) came in with dirt particulates on the surface and an old varnish that was discoloring. Careful cleaning and vacuuming removed the surface contaminates and the varnish. This allowed the colors to pop, and make this abstract work even more dynamic. A new frame was prepared by us, a Dutch Modernist with white gold.

Gabor Peterdi was born in Budapest in 1915 and he died an American citizen in Connecticut in 2001. His studies began at the Hungarian Academy. In 1930, he won the Prix de Rome for painting. He continued his studies in Paris at Academia delle Belle Arti, Academie Julian, and the Academie Scandinavien. In 1939, with the threat of yet another war, Peterdi decided to move to The United States. In New York he received a one-man exhibition of paintings at the Julien Levy Gallery. Peterdi taught at the Brooklyn Museum in 1948, organizing the graphic arts workshop there. He was also a professor of art at Hunter College in 1949, and a Professor Emeritus of Yale University in the 1960s. Peterdi’s book Printmaking Methods Old and New was published in 1959. It continues to be the standard technical reference for both printmaking students and professionals. Peterdi was a great innovator of printmaking techniques. His devised elaborate ways of color printing by collaging copper plates. Over his lifetime he was accorded over 40 prizes, grants, and other honors. His work is included in the Permanent Collections of over 150 institutions around the world.

Romanian Interior Painting

This painting came from Oradea, Romania, and is believed to have been done around 1910. Unfortunately, it had been in a flood, which left it with substantial problems. The water damage created widespread craquelures and rippled the canvas across the entire surface. Lodged in the back of the canvas was a bevy of dust, wood bits, broken glass and dead insects. Restoration will take some time, but with a painting in this condition, once complete it’ll be like seeing it for the first time. If you look closely at the window, there is a structure of a building and we’re hoping to possibly be able to identify it.

Oradea’s King Ferdinand Square is dominated by the State Theater that was designed in 1900 by Austrian architects, Fellner and Hellmer, who also designed the Vienna Opera House. Eight miles from the Hungarian border, Oradea has been inhabited since 300 BC. It’s current population is around 204,000. The pesky Crisu Repede River runs through it. Flood-banks have been able to tame the river, but in 1836 a large part of the town was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt in the 18th century through the plans of Viennese engineer Franz Anton Hillebrandt following the then-trendy Austrian architectural style called Secession with its richly decorated facades of pale pink, blue, green and white. In addition to the many Baroque buildings, Oradea is known for its rich collection of Art Nouveau architecture. It is the 10th largest city in Romania.

Oredea, Romania.

Update: JACOBSEN B.W. MORSE MARITIME PAINTING

Since our last post this maritime painting by Morse (1850-1921) has received a few new steps. A complete cleaning has been carried out on the surface. This lightened the color and made some of the paint and fly specks easier to see. The major and several tears were sutured from the reverse and pressed flat with blotters. We used a more substantial reline process, due to the severity of the tears. Mesh fabric, with restorer’s adhesive applied to both sides, were situated between the sutured areas and the new linen. The heat press adhered the layers under pressure and helped to flatten the surface. Next we’ll conduct another round of cleaning, and then touch up the tears with in-fill and in-painting before a final coat of conservation varnish. Stay tuned for more…

Antonio Jacobsen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, on November 2, 1850 to a family of violin makers. At an early age he enrolled at the Royal Academy of Design in Copenhagen, and studied until his family’s money ran out. At the age 18 it was compulsory for him to join the Danish military forces, but he escaped and sailed for America.

Praised for his freelance sketchwork the Marvin Safe Company commissioned him to decorate their safes. This work transitioned into commissions from sea captains and shipowners, and then into Steamship companies that wanted to record their fleet.

In 1880, he and his family moved to Hoboken, New Jersey. Jacobsen’s work was strongly desired during his lifetime and it’s estimated that he executed some 6,000 paintings. His works can be seen in most major collections of maritime art including the: Peabody Museum, Salem, MA.; The Mariners Museum, Newport News, VA.; Seaman’s Bank for Savings, etc. He died in 1921.

Taiwanese Eagle Sculpture

This eagle was carved from camphor wood, and it was made and purchased in Taiwan. We believe it to be from the 1950’s-1970’s. A previous restoration had reattached one of the wings, but this effort was starting to become loose.

Once the wing was detached, we removed the old glue and cleaned the area for our own repairs. Restorer’s adhesive rejoined the wing, and this was further strengthened with oak dowels and mahogany shins that were inserted and then carved to flush. The remaining gap in the attachment was filled with a restorer’s putty. Once it hardened we carved and sanded it down. Casein and acrylic paints were then used to match the finishing colors to the original, with shellac then used to seal the area.

We are going to be sad to see this sculpture head back home. It took every member of our team to accomplish this restoration, and we are quite happy with how it turned out.

Arthur Schneider Duck Paintings

These two duck paintings by Arthur Schneider (1866-1942) came in with heavy contaminations of smoke and dirt particulates. Ducks Landing has a shellac covering that has turned brown and started to run. Ducks and Snipes has a few fingerprints along the right edge that appear to have been done in paint, and two significant dents in the paint canvas. Once cleaned, we expect these paintings to look significantly better; early tests have lifted significant amounts of  contaminates. Unfortunately, though, none of the steps we will need to take involves a water bath.

Born in 1866, Arthur E. Schneider was an American painter and illustrator from Madison, WI. He was best known for his landscapes and his Orientalist genre scenes depicting village streets, children and Arabs. He trained in New York City and Europe.

Schneider was to become the court painter to the Sultan of Morocco, Mulai Abd-ul-Aziz (abdelaziz of Morocco) [1878-1943]. He travelled to the country in November of 1900 and stayed until March, 1902. He took several other trips to Morocco, including one in 1905, in which he painted the Sultan’s portrait. In 1908, he built a painting studio in the Sultan’s garden. Schneider would travel with the Sultan to various cities including Tangiers and Fez, documenting the trip in watercolor sketches published by Century Magazine in 1903. The paintings were highly detailed and had a near-photographic quality, and had ironic names like “The Sultan and Play,” where the Sultan was playing pool.

Between 1905 and 1913, Schneider lived and worked in New York City. He moved around and was known to have lived and worked in Cleveland, Chicago, Tampa, FL, and Boston, MA.

He exhibited at the Salmagundi Club, American Watercolor Society, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Boston Art Club, the National Academy of Design, and the Art Club. Schneider was a member of the American Watercolor Society in New York City, the Salmagundi Club, and The Art Club.  His work is in the permanent collection of Whistler House Museum of Art in Lowell, MA.

Schneider died February 7, 1942.

Surrey Watercolor

This watercolor had been on a mat that transferred acids to the paper and caused staining. Chemistry baths neutralized these stains, and after plenty of careful scraping we were able to remove the mat. There was some discoloration below the central trees that in-painting was able to restore. Acid-free, double mats then dressed up the painting and UV-filtering added protection. It was then re-fit inside the client’s frame.

We had hoped to discover the artist’s identity, but we were unable to do so. The only notation given by the artist was North Reigate, Surrey, which is a rather charming county south of London, but unfortunately none our cleaning efforts revealed a signature.

 

WWII Flight Control Panel

This flight control panel was used by the client’s father during WWII. Unfortunately the corner molding has suffered some losses, and there is a heavy accumulation of dirt particulates.

The front and reverse will be carefully cleaned. As you can see, the front has several types of materials, along with different textures, and this will require some problem-solving as to determining which cleaning agents to use, but we don’t expect that to be too challenging. The neat part is that we’re going to incorporate an audio device on the back, and with a touch of one of the buttons, we’ll have it play recordings that the client has of her father actually using this flight panel. Stay tuned for more …