Miller Fenwood is a leading West Michigan restoration studio, providing services for artwork, furniture, textiles, ceramics, and other treasured objects. We also produce museum-quality custom frames. Our studios are located in Holland and Hamilton, Michigan. Please use the “Contact” tab near the top of the page if you would like to make appointment.
Member American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.
These four post-impressionistic paintings by French artist, Jules René Hervé (1987-1981), came in with a similar condition, of which the most widespread problem is an odd and somewhat inappropriate varnish, that is not ideal for oil paints, and we suspect was applied by a gallery. The painting in the worst condition is the indoor scene with the red chair and the two embracing figures. The paint film contains structural issues, and we believe that it is likely the oldest of the quartet. And the street scene, which is the largest, wins the prize for being the dirtiest. The plan is to remove the varnish, carefully clean, address any unique issues of the paintings, then apply conservation varnish, before then archivally fitting them into new custom frames that we will have made in the interim. Frame styles are still being discussed with the client–it’s usually a wise decision to wait before committing until after the paintings have been cleaned, as the colors can change their tone. Stay tuned for more…
Jules René Hervé was an Academic French painter, born in 1887. His was born in Langres, a town in the eastern part of France, where he began his art studies in an evening school. Known for his paintings of cityscapes and landscapes, Hervé painted in an impressionistic style that captured the shimmering texture of the city and the softer light of the countryside. When asked, the artist mentions that as far as he can remember, he always wanted to become an artist of talent to being able to express through color the beauty of everything he would see.
Hervé arrived in Paris in 1908 and first continued his studies at the School of Decorative Arts, and then at the Fine Art School. Having his first-time exhibition at the Salon des Artistes français in 1910, where he became a very important member. Hervé was also trained at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Arts Decoratifs of Paris and studied with Fernand Cormon (French 1845–1924) and Jules Adler (French, 1865-1952). From 1911 to 1943, he taught painting with many generations of artists. Hervé was awarded multiple honors during his lifetime, he received a silver medal in 1914 from the Association of French Artists, including a gold medal by the association of the French artists in 1925 and a gold medal for the World Fair of 1937.
Hervé is both a painter of daily countryside themes in which we find the characters performing the daily tasks and a painter of Parisian scenes. His artistic interpretation is filled with sensibility by the use of delightful strokes of light and color. The Paris seen through Hervé’s eyes is a city of poetry, showing its most charming aspects, where the viewer becomes a part of the “City of Lights”, with its sentimental life and feelings of that special atmosphere and all of her charm.
Indifferent to the current fashions of his time, and outside any trends, he never ceased to deepen the technical secrets of his art, and after more than 50 years of artistic experience, he achieved a complete mastery of his own style. No only Jules René Hervé is a painter of great talent, but he represents the purest tradition of French art. His works can be compared to the great impressionists of former times, playing with his palette as a musician does with a musical instrument, resulting for each of his works a marvelous symphony of color and light.
His paintings are in numerous museum collections in France and abroad, like in the Pads, Langares, Saint-Etienne, Annecy, and Tourcoing France; and also in institutions like the Chicago Art Institute, Musée d’art et d’histoire de Langres, Musée du Petit Palais in Paris, Casablanca Marocco, Dijon, Tourcoing, Musée des beaux-arts de Tourcoing, Musée des beaux-arts de Saint-Étienne, Musée des beaux-arts d’Annecy and the Dahesh Museum in New York City. Hervé died in 1981.
Porte St Denis by Édouard Cortès (1882 – 1969) suffered from scuffs and surface contaminates. The scuffs had resulted in paint loss and were visible when the back of the canvas was held up to light. They appeared as little pin pricks.
The painting was de-fit and cleaned. Consolidation and in-fill handled the areas where there were scuffs, and in-painting concealed these areas. A final application of conservation varnish will preserve the artwork for years to come.
We prepared a new handmade and custom Louis XV frame with 23K gold.
Before and After
Edouard Cortes was born into a family of artists and artisans in Paris, 1882. His grandfather, Andre Cortes, was famous for his work on the stained glass windows of the Cathedral of Seville and his father, Antonio Cortes, was a painter at the royal court of Spain. In this artistically conducive atmosphere, Edouard showed exceptional talent early and decided at a young age that he was destined to be a painter. He once stated, “I was born from and for painting.”
In his youth, Cortes trained at his father’s studio and was also given advice and encouragement from his brother (also a painter) and other local artists. Surprisingly, before undergoing his formal education at the National French Art School in Paris, a sixteen-year old Cortes first exhibited his work at the national exhibition of the Societe des Artistes Francais in Paris, 1899. His large painting, Le Labour, was a great success and the French press lauded the young phenomenon of the French art scene.
Edouard eventually became a member of the French Artists’ Society, exhibiting his works every year as his reputation began to grow. In 1901 Cortes began his long tradition of painting different vignettes of Paris. He also painted familial interiors, landscapes, and seascapes but achieved his greatest fame through these masterly and expressive Parisian scenes. In 1915, he was awarded the Silver Medal at the Salon des Artistes Francais and the Gold Medal at the Salon des Independents. He also received numerous awards at the Salon d’Hiver during his artistic career.
Cortès’ beautiful depictions of Paris were always in demand and he continued to paint them until his death in 1969.
Final steps ended on this big, wonderful, and challenging job. When all of the scaffolding, ladders, and painter’s tape was removed, it was such a joy to go through the entryway like it was a part of a house and not a job site. There’s a lovely duet between the size of the project and the jog in the floor plan before the second stairwell that the viewer is carried along almost like the secco fresco is the melody and the combination leaves the viewer somewhat mesmerized and enchanted. Secco fresco is a lovely art form, combing two of the oldest forms, painting and architecture, and is incredibly rare nowadays, but we are very grateful to have been able to preserve some of it.
At the bottom is a video to share the experience for what it’s like walking through this entryway. We are very proud with what we were able to accomplish and with how it looks, and we are thankful for all of the people who helped, and are very thankful for the home owners who allowed us to overtake part of their house for a time. We will miss you, Davenport, Iowa.
This project came in as a damaged copper mount, that had been used to showcase a tile panel, and replacement tiles from the same manufacturer as the original tiles. As you can see in the photographs, the panel suffered significant warping along one of the edges. Straightening it out was outsourced to a metal specialist. Only after that was it realized that the new tile panel has a slightly larger dimension and would not fit. A new copper panel was made to the correct specifications and the new tiles were put into place with a restorer’s adhesive. The original copper mount had a substantial bracket that allows it to securely attach to a wall. This was transferred to the new copper mount.
The tiles are from Sant’ Anna in Lisbon, Portugal, established in 1741.
This painting suffered from a considerable amount of dirt particulates across the surface as well as a very thin and fragile canvas. Numerous holes had occurred along the edges, including one good-sized hole along the bottom middle, and canvas degradation had greatly compromised the edges of the canvas.
The painting was de-fit and carefully cleaned. We had hoped that cleaning would render the signature more legible, but this was not the case. New archival linen was adhered to the reverse to bolster the foundation. In-fill consolidated the holes along the perimeter and in-painting concealed these areas. It took three rounds of cleaning due to the extreme amount of particulates on the canvas, which also included fly specks that had to be meticulously and carefully treated by a scalpel. A new stretcher bar and new frame with sgraffito with an archival fit rounded out the restoration.
A couple of like-themed watercolors came in with similar issues. Dirt particulates across the surface of the font, and on the back acidic tape and adhesive had transferred acidic compounds to the paper which led to staining. As far as the watercolor paint, both came in with compromised portions. These parts were in-painted to return them to their original state. We prepare some before-and-after to highlight how dramatic this effect can be even for a watercolor.
The watercolor with the two fishing shanties is by Nathaniel Steinberg (1893 – 1976) and the watercolor with the dredge is by an unknown artist. We restored another Steinberg watercolor back in 2017 and you can that blog here.
A quick update here to show the wow factor with some before and after photographs. Some of the “after” photographs are not true finals, and despite that the transformation is still very impressive. We hope you enjoy these as much as we have in making them. Our current has shifted all the way up to the belvedere. Stay tuned for more…
This painting by Wayne Cooper (1942-) came in with heavy dirt particulates across the surface from tar and nicotine, and also a tear in the middle of the canvas. Careful cleaning lifted the particulates, of which there were plenty, but the shift in color tones was not as dramatic as it sometimes can be. We’ve included a halfway cleaned shot where you can clearly see the difference, but the Cooper palette and its Western ruggedness proved to be both thematic and impervious to our cleaning efforts. It’s a stark, weathered landscape with a series of white doors drawing the eye from edge to edge. There is some in-fill we’ve done, also white, along the central building, which is where the tear was and is now where our patch has been sutured to. In-painting will conceal this area. Stay tuned for more…
Wayne Cooper was born in 1942 near Depew, Oklahoma. His talent was recognized at an early age, leading to intense training with Woody Crumbo, the Famous Artist School, Gary Artist League, Valparaiso University, the American Atelier in New York City and the Cowboy Artist of America Museum in Kerrville, Texas and with such well-known artists as Joe Beeler and Howard Terpning.
Cooper’s professional career started in 1964 in Chicago. He lived, painted and sculpted in New York City from 1974 to 1981. He returned to Oklahoma to paint and sculpt Western subjects. Wayne Cooper’s works are represented in collections throughout the world, both public and private. Many museums are proud to include his paintings and sculpture in their collections, including the Will Rogers Museum in Claremore, Oklahoma; the Oklahoma Heritage Museum; and the American Indian Museum in Catoosa, Oklahoma. He has also been commissioned to do several large-scale oil paintings for the Senate in the Capitol Building in Oklahoma City.
Our progress is ramping up. With the fine detail restoration of all the portraits on the wall we now have some new faces watching us work. We also ran PH tests to learn more about the paint. The tricky stairwell has been attacked above and below, and presents a big canvas for us to try more of our marble painting which has turned out rather well on the leading walls. We are very proud and excited by the results so far, but we also humbly know that we have to turn the corner a few times with a project of this size. Enjoy the photographs and video.