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.

A Couple of Works by W.E. Baum

This pair of W.E. Baum (1884 – 1956) artworks came into the studio recently. The first is an oil painting depicting the view from his studio. The second is a landscape from a place he knew well, Sellersville, Pennsylvania.

On the oil painting there have been a few areas of loss, and the canvas has cupped due to the moisture let in by the frame. The typical dirt contaminates also plague the surface of this artwork. In-fill and in-painting will restore the areas of loss, and deep cleaning with remove the dirt contaminate. To stabilize the canvas it will be placed on a honeycomb panel. This will have the added benefit of undoing the cupping so it can remain flat. Its frame is a 19th Century frame. There are some areas of loss and they will be addressed through new casting.

The pastel was done on a board, and it is possible that there was also paper involved, but further investigation will be needed to determine that. However, the board contains acids that have migrated to the pastel and are degrading it at the cellular level through chemical burns. We also suspect that the acids are causing staining, but that the pastels are covering it. In some places the pastel has started to flake, which is largely due to its age. Consolidation will return it to a consistent plane. The board will be deacidified, and if we find that there is paper, it will also be deacidified and then placed on new, archival board. This pastel came in a art nouveau frame that lacks the depth needed to keep the pastel from the glass–this has caused some pastel loss in the past. To fix this, a back-up will be given to the frame, and UV-filtering glass will replace the original glass.

Stay tuned for more…

Walter Emerson Baum, the second of five children, was born in Sellersville, Pennsylvania on December 14, 1884. His family was known for musical talents, but he studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and later received an honorary degree from Lehigh University.

Baum was a prolific artist who exhibited in over one-hundred fifty museum exhibitions and received over thirty major awards. Baum gained nationwide recognition when he won the prestigious Sesnan Gold Medal in 1925 at the Pennsylvania Academy of Art Annual. Later he won the Zabriskie Prize in 1945 from the American Watercolor Society and the Medal of Honor in 1953 from the National Arts Club.

He is considered the “father of art in the Lehigh Valley,” and he wrote extensively on the subject for the Sellersville Herald, the Doylestown Intelligence and the Allentown Evening Chronicle. He also lent his expertise and criticism to the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin and the Philadelphia Sunday Bulletin serving as art editor and critic for both as well as for the publication, Two Hundred Years, a study of the Pennsylvania Germans and their heritage.

His dedication to the improvement and preservation of art culminated with his founding of the Lehigh Art Alliance and the co-founding of the Allentown Art Museum. Between 1918 and 1926, Baum taught art classes at his home in Sellersville. After a student suggested that he offer summer art classes in Allentown, Baum founded his own school of art in 1929.

Besides directing the Baum School of Art, Baum worked as the first director of the Allentown Art Museum and amassed a major regional art collection of the period. In June of 1956, Baum retired as director of the Baum School and the Allentown Art Museum. Later that month he wrote his last column for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. Shortly thereafter, on July 12, 1956, he died of a heart attack.

17th Century Drawing Finished

This 17th Century drawing was one of the longer jobs we’ve had, and we knew this would be the case as the amount of work would be extensive, and we would also need to make some important design decisions.

Areas of loss in the paper and smaller pinhole-sized holes were prevalent across the artwork. On the reverse some asphaltum was adhered, which is a type of tar. Stains had developed and acid contaminates had migrated into the paper.

Chemical baths lifted the stains and neutralized the acid contaminates. Another chemical was used to soften the asphaltum which was then carefully scraped with a scalpel, and then another chemical helped to treat the underlying stains. New paper pulp to fill the lost areas was made and incorporated with water that self-adhered to the rice paper quality of the original.

The new frame we made is a custom Sienese Italian with granito and raised gesso-corners with a feather motif and matching spandrel. We noticed in the cap that there’s a feather, and we brought that decoration into the corners. The granito can be seen around the feathers as the small dots.

Restoration started back in March and we are particularly satisfied with the culmination of what was months of slow progress. As the various aspects matured the anticipation kind of teased us with how they would eventually look together. But when they finally did come together we were thrilled with how the frame and spandrel appear to be the same period as the drawing, and how there’s a shared elegant quality that is still inviting in an introspective, personal sort of way.

Adolf Dehn Central Park Watercolor

Substantial staining and several drips trouble this Central Park snowscape. With the proper treatment and stain removal the discoloration will disappear. This is going to greatly improve the color dynamics, as this is predominately a black and white watercolor. The color tones will also be accentuated with a custom white gold frame done in the Modernist Marin style. Stay tuned for finished photographs…

Adolf Dehn (1895-1968) was born in Waterville, Minnesota. He began creating artwork at the age of 6. His student and early professional life began with a dedicated pursuit of black and white topics as a natural and expressive watercolorist. By 1920, after formal training as an illustrator and lithographer, he began to create ink drawings and lithographs, the sales of which supported him though the depression.

In the early 1920’s, Dehn moved to Europe, and developed his imagery of cabaret, park scenes, burlesque, and European landscapes of the roaring 20’s. He returned to the Midwest during the depression and by 1936 he started to work in the watercolor medium. He discovered a fondness for its characteristics of finish, fluidity, and adaptability for effects that could be either deliberate or spontaneous.

It seems watercolors also agreed with Dehn’s open, effusive, and passionate character. During the 30’s and 40’s, his favorite subjects were Midwest and Northeast farmscapes. His eventual home of New York City also became a frequent subject matter as he captured the essence of the city’s burlesque, Central Park, Harlem nightclubs, industrial yards, and areas of high society.

He died in New York City in May 1968, and left behind a vast body of lithographs, watercolors, drawings and prints, which are in the permanent collections of nearly 100 museums across the United States and Europe.

 

Hoerman Grand Canyon Original American Impressionist 22K Frame

We were very happy with how our original frame turned out and with how it paired with the Hoerman Grand Canyon landscape. The quality that struck us about the painting were the layers of geological progression receding into the distance and how the cloud gave commonality to both the progression and also the distance. We took this quality, and within the American Impressionist vein, simplified it in our corner design with what we’re calling “Mountains and Leaves.” We were also pleased with how the richness of the 22K gold picks up the red tones of the Grand Canyon and gives a warm, open, and inviting quality.

Robert Wood Autumn in the Woods Landscape

This is the second Robert Wood (1889 – 1979) painting we’ve had in studio. This one has a substantial coating of tar and nicotine, and in the sky area, where the paint is thinner, some areas of loss were minor hits have occurred. Along the perimeter, where the stretcher bar pushed the canvas against the frame, is a crack in the paint film.

Stronger than usual chemicals were needed to remove the tar and nicotine. On the reverse we applied a restorer’s chemical to clean and hydrate the painting. Cleaning to the front has had a stunning effect. Wood was known for his Bluebonnet paintings, and you get some of that blue in the sky. Cleaning also reveals the intimacy of the brushstrokes and reveals the technical ability of Wood.

After in-painting, re-stretch, re-fit and conservation varnish, this painting will be all done. Stay tuned for more, the transformation photos are sure to be remarkable.

Robert William Wood was one of the most prolific landscape painters in American history. His career spanned several decades. Regions he is most known for include the Texas hill country, the California cost, the Rocky Mountains, upstate New York and the Sierra Nevada.

Wood’s success was unusual in that he did very little promotion of his own work. Instead he placed faith in the natural appeal and time-enduring qualities that strove for, dedicating himself to his craft.

He was born in Sundgate, Kent, England, and immigrated to the United States in 1910. Subsisting on odd jobs and traveling heavily, Wood, along with his family, finally settled for a time in San Antonio, Texas where he became a pupil of Jose Arpa, a Spanish painter who studied at the Seville Academy.

Wood’s style began in the vein of 19th century English Landscape and evolved to include impressionist brushstrokes and more vibrant colors. Robert Wood continued to paint until his death. He died in Bishop, California.

VAN DUREN GERMAN FAIRY TALE COMPLETE

With the extensive tear sutured and the paint surface carefully cleaned, restoration efforts turned toward the frame. It is in the Victorian style, and is period to the painting, about the 1870s to 1910s, and is a wonderful frame but was in rough shape. Dirt accumulation and missing ornamentation had impaired its appearance. Molds were created to replicate the lost areas of the frame, and composition shaped to match them. These were then slotted into place with fine cutting and sanding. Gesso, clays, and then gilding matched it with the rest of the frame.

We are very pleased with how the painting and frame restoration came out, and then once again when we fitted the painting back into the frame and saw how the gilding, burnished in the sunlight, accents the color temperaments found in the painting. They are truly a great match.

The artist, Cornelius Van Duren (1915 – 2013), spent part of his life in Holland, Michigan and was a decorated war veteran, serving 30 years in the army in WWII, Korean War and Vietnam. He received the combat infantry badge, bronze star media with valor, among other awards. In 1965 he moved to Long Beach, California where he lived until passing away at the age of 98.

The painting is a depiction of Lily and the Lion by the Grimm Brothers.

4 Prints of American Historical Significance

Discoloration caused by dirt and acid contamination was a common theme for these four prints. Around the edge, tears were also problematic. Through a bevy of chemical baths and careful cleaning we were able to neutralize the acid components as well as lift a substantial amount of dirt particulates. For the tears we incorporated new paper of a similar quality to the original. Due to the thinness of the prints, and the susceptibility of the edges to tear, we archivally placed them on tissue paper to strengthen the backing.

 

Frame Composition: Restoration of Vintage Ornate Frames

A few of the older frames we have at our studios are in need of replaced ornamentation. It’s an involved process to replicate what is 150-year-old frame-working. We use an in-house formula for our composition, made from six ingredients. A mold is created and the composition formed from it, and then fitted into place with cutting and sanding. Then gesso, clays, and gilding are added to match it with the rest of the frame in what will ultimately be a black glaze over gilding. The great aspect of composition is how well it can be shaped in a refined manner, which makes it ideal for decorative ornamentation. Stay tuned for photographs of the finished frames . . .

Custom Frame for Mathias Alten Landscape

In case you missed our post about restoring this Mathias Alten (1871-1938) landscape, you can find it here. To match the elegance of the painting, a frame in the style of a reverse-slope modernist Whistler was chosen, and prepared by us. Antique 22K gold over red and yellow clay was picked out to accent the softer sky tones. This was further enriched with a mahogany ebonized liner.

Born in Gusenburg, Germany, Mathias Alten is hailed as the foremost painter of Grand Rapids, Michigan and a second-generation Impressionist whose primary theme was agrarian labor. He was apprenticed to Joseph Klein, a decorative painter in Saint Wendel, Germany and worked on ceiling and wall decorations for churches and theaters.

At 17, he emigrated to Grand Rapids, Michigan, which was a major manufacturing center and vital art community. He studied with Edwin A. Turner and first exhibited his work at the Michigan State Fair in 1896.  Some of his earliest works are floral stilllife, a theme to which he continued to return; he also did figure and portrait painting, but his landscapes defined the direction of his work.

In 1898, he went to France and settled in Paris after spending time painting fishing scenes in Etaples, an artists’ colony on the French coast. He studied at the Academie Julian with Benjamin Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens and won a gold metal for the best figure drawing. Interested in animal drawing, he attended classes at the veterinary school and then traveled extensively throughout France and Italy and other parts of Europe.

Returning to Grand Rapids, he and Constant Fliermans opened a studio and art school together, and then on his own he pursued an active career as a a portrait and figure painter, and also did numerous murals. His figure paintings were unusual for that time because they were not elegant subjects but working class people straining their muscles.

From 1902, after spending time at the Old Lyme, Connecticut art colony, he became increasingly devoted to plein air rural landscape painting with sparkling sunlight and colors of Impressionism. In 1910, he traveled abroad for a year, doing many rural scenes of Holland, and in New York, he saw paintings by and was much influenced by the Spanish Impressionist Joaquin Sorolla whose work became a lasting influence in subject matter and a palette that was more colorful and sunlit than his previous work. In 1912, he traveled in Spain, and much of his work from that time reflected Spanish subjects.

To escape the harsh winters he made trips to southern California in 1929 and 1933-34. His good friend Norman Chamberlain had settled in Laguna Beach. While visiting there he was active with the local art colony and painted coastal scenes and a series of missions. He achieved success in Los Angeles due to his daughter’s promotion of his works.

He died in Michigan on March 8, 1938.