Come visit us in Hamilton, 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.

Special thanks to Kallie Walker Photography // kalliewalker.com

Hunter Wood Night Sail Complete

Since our last post about this painting we have learned the identity of the ship, the Bluenose, as well as the ship in the distance that it’s racing, the Gertrude L. Thebaud. In 1938, W.R. MacAskill actually recorded some of this footage, which the Nova Scotia Archives was kind enough to upload. You can watch it here, runtime is about 5 minutes.

Shellac had originally been used as a varnish for this painting. Over time shellac will become brittle, turn yellow, and attract dirt. A 4-stage cleaning effort was carried out to remove the shellac, clean the painting, and then finally apply a coat of conservation varnish. The original frame was in good condition, and it paired well with the painting so it was kept and touched-up in some of its problems areas, mostly the edges, where we redid the gesso and gilding, and married it to the original.

Oceanscape by Christine Sullivan

Stemming from a purchase at the Oils By the Sea Gallery in Provincetown, Massachusetts, a collector wished for a similar but larger oil painting by the same artist, Christine Sullivan. Sullivan is an artist we are very happy to have worked with extensively in the past, helping to frame her artwork, including the painting that fostered this commission.

Before the global economy, this was how much of the art world operated: a dealer brought together a buyer’s taste with an artist’s ability to create something very unique and tailored. A creative relationship was formed that was tied together by one more entity: the frame maker.

Due to Sullivan’s strong and developed style, and because the buyer enjoyed the frame for the smaller painting, we developed a similar frame called the American Step, and chose a 3-inch width with white gold.

This was a truly fun and rewarding collaboration that we greatly enjoyed and cherished knowing that these opportunities are very rare in today’s art world.

Eduard Manet Etching Man With Jug

 

This wonderful etching from Eduard Manet (1832 – 1883) Man with Jug (Le Buveur d’Eau ou la Regalade) has a few issues going on with it. As is often the case with older works, harmful masking tape was used to adhere it. In this case the damage is more than usual. Around the mat window masking tape was also used, in addition to the usual portions along the outer edges. There is a considerable amount of acid damage in varying stages, which was accelerated by sun damage. Due to the mats used–there were three–different portions of the etching were subject to different amounts of light. Direct sunlight acted as a catalyst for the acid compounds to burn the paper. The good news is that we think the paper is an early Rives paper, which is a French paper and of very good quality, but is laid and linen. The quality should help the condition of the paper rebound once we treat for acid damage.

To fit the etching into the original frame the bottom of the paper was folded. This left a crease and a severe amount of burning. Though the damage could be beyond our control, we will make every effort to save this area. Stay tuned for more . . .

A French painter, Edouard Manet was one of the first nineteenth century artists to approach modern-life subjects, and is considered to have been a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism.

In 1850 after serving in the merchant marines, Manet entered the studio of Thomas Couture, studying until 1856. The Old Masters influenced him, particularly Velazquez and Goya.

Throughout his oeuvre Manet painted modern day life, yet many of his paintings have deeper elements than their initial impressions of simple and realistic. His work seems to mimic the contradictions and lack of perspective of himself and Paris during his working career. Always controversial, Manet sought to record the days of his life using his own unique vision. From beggars, to prostitutes, to the bourgeoisie he sought to be true to himself and to reproduce “not great art, but sincere art.”

Edouard Manet died in Paris on April 30, 1883.

Fleur-de-lis watermark shown on reverse.

 

Enamel on Glass 1866

This family heirloom is believed to have been made while the descendants were on the boat, immigrating to the United States. The exact year that is believed to have happened is 1866.

Unfortunately, a heavy amount of dust had gathered on the work. We believe the majority of this came from a wood or coal fire. Many, many cotton tips were used to carefully clean the front and reverse. The artist had used an enamel paint, which we stabilized to help its longevity, and its glossy finish, which is one of the strengths of enamel paints. Some areas had loss, and in those we were able to in-paint and match the colors to the original. The frame was in good shape, and we placed it in a Victorian shadow box frame, which we built, made in the same style with matching fillet and float.

Family objects are one of the things we enjoy working on the most, and love it when we can help restore the condition, and add new significance without detracting from the original aesthetics. This painting will be enjoyed for years to come.

Weir Frame for Van Wieck Painting

Nigel Van Wieck’s (1949-) pictures are, in spite of their realistic form of representation, an unending source of fantasy. Animating stimuli also call for us to discover formal design principles, to create narrative links, to play through different possibilities and at the same time to always to shift our perspectives “Reality is much better when it is imagined”, the artist opined on his artistic intentions. But it is only through the elimination of distance, and opening oneself to the works that this new reality is unveiled and begins its delightful play of ambiguities and multiples meanings.

Nigel Van Wieck, who was born in the United Kingdom in Bexley, Kent, and received his training at the Hornsey College of Art in London. The artist turned to the Kinetic Art, a field in which he began to experiment with light, particularly neon light. Ever evolving, Van Wieck began to study the compositional use of light in the works of the Old Masters, and to gather inspiration for his own paintings. The artist cites the Dutch painter Jan Vermeer in particular as one of his great role models.

Van Wieck has been living and working in New York, USA, since 1979. An English style in his artwork is not apparent. Instead there is a strong influence from the American Realist artists, with whom he came in contact with after moving to America. At first it was the American Realist paintings of the late 19th century that impressed Van Wieck, but the strongest impression was Edward Hopper, whose art he thought was exemplary and in whom he perceived a kindred spirit. The comparison between the oeuvre of Hopper and Van Wieck has understandably often been drawn. In fact there are numerous parallels between Hopper’s often isolated and introverted figures who are caught in an urban malaise, and the equally singular figures in Van Wieck’s work. Moreover, the artists are united in their frequent depiction of empty places, in their clear compositional structure and in a fascination with sharp light and shadow effects.

The woman passed-out at a restaurant is a Van Wieck work that has its inspiration from a scene the artist observed. According to the story, the woman, after a fight, remained seated at the table until she fell asleep in a calm yet isolated reprieve. A deep sense of  disorder is somehow captured in this composition of straight tables, straight chairs, the long straight bar counter, and the liquor bottles standing like soldiers.

We prepared a custom Weir frame with 22kt gold, double-gilt to enrich the color. The frame has a warmness that accentuates the lighting in the painting and invites the eye into the composition. It is always an honor and rarity when a frame maker gets to work with a living artist and learn their style and use their own talents to complement.

 

Dog With Pheasant

 

This painting is a family heirloom that was in a bit of a precarious situation: the linen that was used was a very heavy kind. This gave an advantage to the texture and the feel of the painting, a nice complement to a work of this theme, but unfortunately with heavy linen the paint film is more vulnerable to cracking; and as family heirloom’s tend to get up there in age, this painting had numerous areas in need of in-painting.

 

Glackens FOUR BOYS WALKING A DOG

This ink drawing by William James Glackens (1870 – 1938), Four Boys Walking A Dog, suffers from stains, acid components, and a nasty crease along that middle that was deep enough to start to tear in a couple places. A few of the stains were caused by mineral deposits in the paper itself, which can happen with older paper.

Chemical baths treated the stains and the acid components. From a previous restoration a couple strips of stock restorer’s adhesive were used to suture the crease. These will be replaced with a more refined material.  Stay tuned for more . . .

William James Glackens (1870 – 1938) graduated from Philadelphia’s Central High School with John Sloan, and in 1891 became an artist-reporter for the “Philadelphia Record.” From 1892 to 1895 he held the same position for the “Philadelphia Press”. He studied with Thomas Anshutz at the Pennsylvania Academy where he formed a strong friendship with John Sloan, George Luks, Everett Shinn and Robert Henri; later he shared a studio and traveled in Europe with Henri. He spent a year in Paris where he painted many scenes of life in the parks and cafes.

Glackens settled in New York, worked as an illustrator, and in 1898, went to Cuba as an artist-reporter for “McClure’s” magazine of the Spanish-American War. He became part of “The Eight,” a landmark exhibition of urban realists, led by Henri, at the Macbeth Galleries.

The early work of Glackens followed Henri’s lead and maintained “strong ties to Edouard Manet’s darkened palette and brushy style of realism.” After 1910, Glacken began to brighten in response to his strong admiration of the work of French artist, Pierre August Renoir.

In 1912, he went on an extensive art-buying trip in Europe for Albert Barnes, a friend from high school who had amassed a fortune from an antiseptic gargle solution. Barnes built a huge home and museum in Merion, a suburb of Philadelphia, and established the Barnes Museum. The many works of Renoir, Degas, Van Gogh and Cezanne that Glackens purchased for Barnes became the center of the Museum collection. This project also firmed Glackens’ interest in the Impressionists, especially Renoir.

He died suddenly in 1938 while visiting Charles Prendergast in Westport, Connecticut.

George Catlin Catching The Wild Horse Cleaning

The initial condition of this George Catlin (1796-1872) print suffered from stains, discoloration, and severe foxing. Foxing is a condition where a brown discoloration appears. The origins for this are somewhat unknown. It’s believed to either be a fungus growth, or an oxidation agent from the components in the paper, or both. The good news is that foxing does not compromise the integrity of the paper. We’ve circled just some of the foxing. The larger circle shows a slight magnification which helps bring out the rich colors and detail of the Native America–some of the strong qualities of this print.

 

The above photographs show the print going through a solution bath. This reduced the foxing and brought out the blue in the clouds, and the white-capped mountains in the distance. We’re getting closer to how the artist envisioned it.

 

Once the print was out of the solution bath, further cleaning was carried out to achieve these pristine results. Crisp whites, most dramatically in the eye of the central horse but also along the paper’s border, heightened detail in the complex grass areas, and an increase feel of the texture in the background. Also noteworthy is a spot at the bottom left of the last picture. There’s a little pinhole where the printer used to place the print.

Restoration will conclude with a custom frame. Stay tuned for more . . .

Jack Gates Pastel Landscape Rustic Vista

This pastel by Jack Gates (1903 – 1997) suffers from flaked pastel and harmful acids. With a brush we were able to clear away some of the loose areas where the upper layers of pastel had flaked, particularly the white portion of the sky, which is the top of three layers and seems to be of a lesser quality as we’ve noticed it’s more prone to delaminating. We also used a scalpel to secure the areas where flaking had started. From the reverse, the work was de-acidified as harmful acids were in the board and were in the process of making their way into the pastels. Stay tuned for more. . .

An impressionist painter of landscapes, figures, still lifes, interiors, and marine scenes, Jack Gates (1903 – 1997) was known for his traditionalist style at a time when modernist, abstract work was in vogue. There is a very apparent influence of the French Tonalist painter Camille Corot.

He was born in the Ukraine and began painting as a youngster in Russia. He studied at the National Academy of Design before emigrating to New York City and attending the Art Students League as a student of Sidney Dickenson, Ivan Olinksy, and Robert Phillip.

He was a member of the the Salamagundi Club, the Allied Artists of America, the Knickerbocker Society, and the Hudson Valley Art Association. Commercially he was represented by Hammer Galleries and The Grand Central Art Gallery. U.S. Navy personnel commissioned him to paint portraits of high-ranking personnel, as did well known personalities: Bess Meyerson, Walter Matthau, and Tony Bennett.

David Shirey, a New York Times art critic, described Gates’ style as personable and inviting, and that these qualities allowed his paintings to “encourage [the viewer] to contemplate them, to walk through them without feeling cramped and to breathe freely among their trees, skies, ponds and fields.” Part of this effect Shirey attributed to the types of brushstroke Gates could employ: “a gestural Expressionist brush that cossets the surfaces of paintings but [he] can also assail them -dashing, sweeping and gliding. He governs the speed of his strokes to accommodate the mood of his pictures.”

Ben Patterson Collage Series

This collage series by Ben Patterson (1934 – 2016) is fun and playful, and yet still provocative. It came in for cleaning and for the pieces to be re-secured. We devised a Velcro system for the weighty Duck Family Dreamland, and thoroughly cleaned the series with a restorer’s solution and quite a few cotton tips.

Benjamin Patterson was born in Pittsburgh in 1934, and graduated from the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, in 1956 with a degree in music. He was a virtuosic double bassist but as an African American he could not find a job in the United States, so he played with various orchestral groups in Canada, including the Halifax Symphony Orchestra and the Ottawa Philharmonic Orchestra (as principal bassist). In the ’60s as a member of the Fluxus movement, Patterson sought to “open people’s minds, ears, and eyes, not necessarily with shock technique, but with surprises and unexpected things so they become more aware and sensitive to the world around them.” By the early ’70s the first of three Patterson children was born, and as a result the art pursuits for Patterson were largely put on hold; as he said “Family was coming along, and papa needed to earn money.” He worked various jobs, and earned a master’s in library science from Columbia University, but in ’87, once his children had finished university he was able to return full-time to art and worked extensively, staging performances and shows around the world. “Artists are like old cowboys; they die with their boots on,” Patterson would say to Interview magazine in 2013.