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.

Member International Fine Art Appraisers.

Chinese Diorama Depicting Lunar New Year

After some research we believe this to be an 18th century diorama from Macau, depicting the Lunar New Year. There is a considerable amount of dirt particulates over the shadow box and the diorama. Several of the people, houses, fencing, and other objects in the diorama have become detached due to a failed adhesive. Some pieces have completely fallen off and present a sort of jigsaw problem to figure out where they belong. The shadow box is comprised of wood that is dry and has lost its strength, and the top end that keeps the glass in place has degraded and is no longer stable. Early cleaning has had a big impact in part due to the age of the artwork and the amount of texture for the particulates to cling to. Stay tuned for more…

Two Takes on the Veneer Frame

Here’s an in-depth look at two of our custom frames designed fo Dutch oil paintings. Both are done in the veneer frame style, but as you’ll see, with quite different results.

The first is a Dutch Veneer with Burl panels and carved ripple ornamentation in ebony over red. The artwork is an oil on canvas by Atonie (Anton) Smeerdijk (1885 – 1965).

Carved ripples for framing has quite the background. Japanese tea in the 17th century was shipped in wooden boxes that they carved waves into since it was going over the water. The Dutch reused these boxes to make frames, and this carving motif caught on, and by the 18th century they had invented machines to replicate it. Our approach to it was through the more traditional, hands-on method.

The second is a Dutch High Front with honey-colored Veneer. The artwork is an oil on canvas by Willem Alexander Knip (1883 – 1967).

Plat Map of A.G. Spalding Land Association

This plat map was mounted on a period muslin fabric. Dirt contaminates are across the surface and cloth frays, crease marks, and border deterioration have affected its stability. Acid stains have caused discoloration, and some instances of the coloring, writing, and stamp-marks have deteriorated.

Testing has begun on all colors and the lead writing. These tests show that some color is friable. The map will be removed from the muslin, as it’ll be easier to deep clean both when they are separate. Acid baths will neutralize and lift the staining. Paper repairs to the areas where the structural integrity is challenged will be made by incorporating new paper of a similar quality. Where necessary in-painting will return the colors to their original state, and the frays along the border will be kept how they are. Once the map and the muslin are ready, they will be re-lined together.

Albert Goodwill Spalding was an American baseball pitcher, manager, and executive in the early years of professional baseball. He co-founded the A.G. Spalding sporting goods company, and following his retirement as a baseball player, he became the president and part-owner of the Chicago White Stockings. He would later call for the commission that investigated the origins of baseball and credited Abner Doubleday with creating the game. He also wrote the first set of official baseball rules. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939, a posthomous honor, having passed in 1915 at the age of 66.

Albert Spalding’s 1871 Boston Red Stockings baseball card

Tree at Water’s Edge

This painting suffered from several tears and flood damage that held left the paint film dry, brittle, and vulnerable to further damage. Dirt particulates had also spread across the surface. For the frame, the flood damage had detached some of the decorative ornamentation.

The tears were sutured from the reverse and then in-filled and in-painted on the front to conceal them. Also on the reverse, new conservation linen was adhered to increase the foundational strength. Hydration was spot-treated to return pliability and health to the paint film. Careful cleaning lifted the dirt particulates and had a pleasing affect on the color tones, and conversation varnish was used at the end.

For the frame, the loose ornamentation was reattached with a restorer’s adhesive, and careful cleaning removed the dirt particulates.

Portrait of Chambers Baird

This painting of Major Chambers Baird is a wonderful family heirloom and has great historical significance for the Ripley, Ohio region due to the subject matter. But more on that later.

As you can see from the photographs, the frame ornamentation has been lost in several places and is compromised in several others. The frame actually suffered structural damage that caused a puncture through the canvas. As for the painting, the canvas and paint film are in rough condition. Heavy dirt particulates cover the front and other than the tear caused by the frame, there are further areas of loss. The exact date of the artwork has not yet been determined. At the earliest it could be Civil War era, but there is also the possibility that it was done more recently and based on a photograph. Stay tuned for more…

MAJOR CHAMBERS BAIRD. Of the men have passed from this life, whose record for good citizenship entitles them to honorable mention in these volumes, is numbered Major Chambers Baird, of Ripley, Ohio. He was a man of affairs and one who wielded a wide influence, his opinions doing much to mold public thought and action. In all his public work Major Baird was actuated by a spirit of direct and immediate serviceableness and his labors in behalf of his town and county were far-reaching and beneficial. The birth of Chambers Baird occurred at Sandy Springs, Adams county, Ohio, July 25, 1811, and his death at Ripley, Brown county, Ohio, Mar. 20, 1887. He was a son of Judge Moses Baird, an Ohio pioneer of Scotch-Irish Presbyterian stock who came from Washington county, Pennsylvania, and settled at Sandy Springs in 1790. Chambers Baird was reared on the home farm on the Ohio river, opposite Vanceburg, Ky., his home until he reached the age of nineteen years, when, in 1830, he became a student in the Ripley College, with his cousin, Stephen R. Riggs, afterward a noted minister and missionary among the Dakota Indians, as classmate. This college closing in 1832, they entered Jefferson College, in Pennsylvania, and graduated from that institution of learning in the year of 1834. After his graduation, Mr. Baird read law at Ripley with the Hon. Archibald Leggett and Col. Francis Taylor, formerly of Kentucky, and was admitted to the bar in November, 1836. He became widely known as a general practitioner, as a keen business man, and prominent citizen. In 1837 Major Baird was united in marriage to Miss Mary Ann Campbell, of Ripley, who passed from this life in 1844. On May 6, 1845, Maj. Chambers Baird was united in marriage to Miss Judith Anne Leggett, only daughter of Mr. A. Leggett, who had married two daughters of Col. Taylor. Mr. Baird still resides (1913) at Ripley and is the other of five children who were born to her union with Major Baird. Of the five children, three died in infancy, and those living are: Florence C., now Mrs. J. J. McCardy of Los Angeles, Cal., and Chambers Baird, a prominent lawyer of Ripley. It is almost impossible for a man of Major Baird’s character and ability to avoid prominence in politics and he took an active part in political life, first as a Whig, and later as a strong Republican and anti-slavery man. In 1855 he was elected State Senator from Brown and Clermont counties; in 1856 he was a delegate to the first National Republican convention which nominated Fremont. Later, he was delegate to many other conventions, and was a trusted leader of the Republican party in his State and county. In 1860 he took a prominent part in the election of President Lincoln and at the out break of the Civil War was among the foremost speakers for the Union. He was an intimate friend of Senator Sherman, Secretary Chase, Governor Dennison and other prominent men. His age, fifty years, prevented him from entering active military service, but he was appointed provost marshal by the Governor and was intrusted with the responsible duty of organizing a defense of the Ohio border. With his accustomed energy Major Baird at once set about organizing minute men and military companies, and later, in 1863, accepted an appointment as paymaster in the United States army, with the rank of major, being first assigned to the Army of the Cumberland, with headquarters at Louisville, Ky. He was later removed to Washington, where he was a resident with Lincoln was assassinated. He paid the Union troops returned from southern prisons, at Annapolis, and was mustered out July 1, 1866, after three years of service. During the period in which he was paymaster, Major Baird handled many millions of money without the loss of one cent. Community affairs were ever of deep interest to Major Baird and his services could always be secured to further any movement for the public good. He was a director of the First National bank of Ripley and later was president of Citizens’ National Bank. He was president of the Ripley Gas Company from its organization in 1860 until his death. For years he was an active member of the Ripley Fair Company and also of the Ripley Saw Mill and Lumber Company. He was an investor in various other local and outside enterprises. He declined a number of nominations and appointments to honorable offices, among them a judgeship in the Supreme Court of Ohio, not wishing to leave his home and profession. Major Baird possessed one of the largest libraries of law books and miscellaneous works in southern Ohio. His home was one of culture and refinement and beauty. In religious matters he was an active member, trustee and elder of the Presbyterian church, and for many years was a teacher of the Bible class and a delegate to the Presbytery and Synod. He always give liberally to all branches of church work, contributing not only financially, but taking a personal interest and rendering active, faithful service. While Maj. Chambers Baird was of the highest type of professional man and enterprising man of business, he was first of all a good citizen. His championship of the right and his settled convictions, from which he could not be swerved, made him a leader of no little power. In his professional life as a lawyer and in business he was conscientious, kind hearted and generous, careful and accurate; in public life he possessed the sterling qualities which command respect, while in the seclusion of home and in the social circle he displayed those winning traits which make human affection little less than divine.

Source: History of Clermont & Brown Counties, Ohio – Volume II – By Byron Williams – 1913 ~ Page 157

A Double Dose of Peter Max

These oversized paintings by Peter Max (1937-) came in with the same ailments, which are quite severe, and the result of poor and prolonged storage practices. As you can see from the photographs, for each painting excessive water damage occured along one edge, the edge that would have been at the bottom while in storage. The damage continued and spread mold and fungal invasions, dirt particulates across the canvas, and cracking and bulging of the paint film.

The first step is to tent the paintings with an agent to kill the mold. Following that, careful cleaning will prep the front and reverse, and then new archival linen will be adhered to the reverse. Where the canvas suffered heavy material loss along the edges, these areas will be reconstituted with in-fill and then in-painted to conceal that there was ever damage. Along these edges is also where the signature was, some of it remains, and the rest will be re-established. Heavy consolidation will return the paint film to plane, and in-painting where necessary will conceal these areas. Conservation varnish to finish. Stay tuned for more…

Born in Berlin in 1937, Peter Max and his family quickly moved to Shanghai, China where he spent the first 10 years of his life.  Young Max formed lasting impressions of Flash Gordon, Capitan Marvel, jazz, creativity, and freedom from American comic books, radio broadcasts, and movies.  Max and his parents traveled through the Tibetan mountains, India, Africa and Israel where Max first studied with a Viennese fauve painter. It was in Israel that Max developed a keen interest in astronomy, a subject that would later impact his artwork.

In 1953, Max and his family moved to the United States, settling in New York City.  After completing high school, Max studied painting at the Art Students League.  He was fascinated with commercial illustration and the graphic arts, and won awards for his album covers and book jackets in his unique style.

During the 1960s, Max worked in his psychedelic photo collage period, which later gave way to his “cosmic” 60s style with its distinctive line work and bold color combinations.  Inspired by his meditative, spiritual teachings, Max’s cosmic art captured the imagination of a generation and launched Max into fame and fortune.

During the 1970s, Max dropped his commercial work and pursued canvas painting in earnest. For the 1976 Bicentennial, Max created the art book Peter Max Paints America, and began his annual tradition of painting the Statue of Liberty.  A lover of music, Max has been designated the Official Artist for the Grammy’s, the New Orleans Jazz Festival and the Woodstock Music Festival.

A Hervé Quartet

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.

Jules René Hervé

 

 

Édouard Cortès, Porte St Denis restored and in new Louis XV frame

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.

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.

BRINGING IT HOME: LAMBRITE ILES PETERSEN HOUSE SECCO FRESCO 3-STORY ENTRYWAY

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Tile Panel on Copper Mount

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