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

Kollwitz Revolt

This intaglio by Käthe Kollwitz (1867 – 1945) is a strong example of her signature work: dark and emotionally charged subjects amidst war, injustice, and death. She herself suffered a tumultuous life. In World War I, she lost a son and fell into extreme bouts of depression. She, however, found one mechanism by which to cope: “Drawing is the only thing that makes life bearable.” But in 1933, as a professor at the Prussian Academy, she was forced to resign as Hitler rose to power. During the war, Allied bombs landed on her house and destroyed much of her work. And two weeks prior to the war ending, she passed away. In her final letter she noted that, “War accompanies me to the end.” Another salient point she made, encapsulating her situation both as an artist and as a citizen of Europe was, “Worst of all is that every war already carries within the war which will answer it. Every war is answered by a new war.”

Revolt depicts the spirit of revolution hovering over an army of protesters. Dirt has accumulated across the surface and the original mat and glass were not archival. There is also a hole at the bottom right that will need to be addressed. Stay tuned for more . . .

 

Dutch lowlands, landscapes, and Rembrandt

Rembrandt’s (1606 – 1669) etching of the Little Stink Mill portrays an actual windmill that was located in west Amsterdam on the De Passeerde bulwark. The mill was owned by the Leathermakers Guild and it’s where they would soften leather with cod liver oil, a smelly process which lead to the “Little Stink Mill” name. Because of the detail of the print, it’s believed that Rembrandt started the work on site, but then finished it in his studio. Unfortunately for this print, surface dirt, a watercolor drip, and acid stains called foxing were causing integrity issues. With targeted baths we lifted the foxing and simultaneously administered a specific solvent to treat the watercolor drip. Restoration was completed by carefully cleaning the surface.

 

 

Jellett and Hone

These works come from two of the more prominent female Irish artists, especially in terms of abstract art, Mainie Jellett (1897 – 1944) and Evie Hone (1894 – 1955). They met while studying at Westminster School of Art, and in 1923 together they staged one of the first abstract painting exhibitions in Ireland, taking place at the Society of Dublin Painters. The initial response from the critics was not too favorable, as they cited a lack of “representational art,” but over time their judgements softened, and eventually they commended Jellett as an important artistic bridge between European and Irish art. In 1926 at the Dublin Radical Club, WB Yeats opened one of her exhibitions. She continued to show, including abroad at Paris, Versailles, Brussels, London, and Amsterdam. And Hone would continue her abstract creations into the 1940s when she then transitioned to stained glass art and created one her more famous works, Crucifixion and Last Supper windows for the Eton Chapel in Windsor.

Ater a close inspection, on the reverse of the Jellett painting, a patch was found from a previous restoration. The work also suffers from expansion and contraction, as well as a dirt contaminate layer, which is not too surprising as the paint film has a great “texture” quality to it. The Hone painting has issues of cupping, where the canvas has contracted faster than the paint film, causing the paint to lift. These areas will be consolidated and the painting as a whole will be carefully cleaned. Stay tuned for more . . .

Eduard Charlemont Portrait

With the rental of a large, accommodating truck, the careful navigation of a tight stairwell, and French double doors opened all the way, the studio saw the arrival of this handsome and large portrait by the European artist, Eduard Charlemont (1848 – 1906). The portrait is roughly 57″ x 87″ and is decorated with a wonderfully rich and ornate frame, although it’s one that’s a bit dirty. There a few unfortunate tears in the portrait. A small one near the taller boy’s right arm, and then a sizable one along the shorter boy’s left leg. Another concern is the warping evident in the top right corner where the painting has pulled back from the frame. Once we set the painting on its reverse, we found work done by a previous conservation, some hole repair. We stripped the frame of its unnecessary wiring and removed the adjunct frame backing that’ll we replace later on with a more quality material. All the prep work has finished, and now the conservation will take over starting with a thorough examination. Stay tuned for more . . .

Labeled as a precocious talent, Eduard Charlemont studied at the Vienna Academy. Originally from Znaim, Moravia (Czech Republic), following his studies Charlemont traveled in Italy, Germany, and France, and did some studying in Venice, before settling in Paris during the 1870s. In 1889 Charlemont won the gold medal at he Exposition Universelle, and his masterwork is considered to be three enormous panels for the Vienna City Theater, whereby each panels is nearly six feet wide. His artwork seemed to be as big as his talent.

After finishing his studies, Charlemont visited Italy, studied in Venice, traveled in Germany and France, and finally settled in Paris during the 1870s.  He was a regular exhibitor at the Salons, and won a gold medal at the 1889 Exposition Universelle.  In addition to his finely wrought genre scenes, Charlemont was sought after as a muralist.  His masterwork was three enormous panels for the Vienna City Theater, each panel measuring almost sixty feet wide.

Jean Juhlin Sculpture

Jean Juhlin (20th Century) sculpture suffered from a broken foot. After careful stabilization work with a restorer’s substance the color was then touched up to marry it to the original.

By her own words Jean Juhlin considers herself to be self-taught, driven by the muse within her that acts as a compass to guide her artistic callings. In the 1960s she opened a studio in Chicago and reconstellated her muse, teaching to a wide range of aspiring sculpturists. At the time she also took on commissions for portraitures.

Her formal learning took place firstly at the Art Institute of Chicago and then secondly in Mexico, at the Instiuto National de Ballas Arts and then the Insituto de Allende. She cites her time in Mexico as a defining period in her art maturation. There she befriended the indigenous population and was particularly drawn to the strong yet calm demeanor of the indigenous women. This subject matter and pathos combination kept her busy as a sculpturist for several years.

Most of her success as a commercial artist can be found in the American Southwest where corporations commissioned her to create life-sized statues of her signature work: indigenous women in the act or stance of primal yet powerful constitutions.

Her work has been at the Ray Tracey Gallery in Santa Fe, El Prado Gallery in Sedona, Miller Gallery in Cincinnati, and Other Side Gallery in Pier, Michigan.

Flyn WWII Portrait 1948

This keepsake, a family portrait, had previously been restored poorly. Originally there was damage due to a hard hit, as well as an unrelated hole near the center of the painting. The previous restorer cut the painting and wax-relined the picture, but due to humidity and other environmental factors the wax re-line delaminated and produced a number of large bubbles. We carefully removed the painting from the stretcher bar, and then from the reverse we gently used heat to loosen the wax re-line that we were eventually able to get in full by gently scraping as well as targeted chemical baths. Once it was gone we were then able to flatten the bubbled areas. The front surface was then cleaned and the portrait relined onto new linen, and then re-stretched using the original stretcher bar. After some in-painting and two coats of conservation varnish the portrait was placed in one of our custom whistler frames done in white gold.

A Step Above the Rest

The American Step frame is one of the more versatile framing options. It’s secret is a simple design that allows it to compliment a wide range of subjects. The first painting is of Aurel, France, a commune in southern France known for being a perched village architecturally highlighted by a 12th Century church and a 13th Century chateau. Olendorf (1924-1996), the artist, has captured the commune at a distance, above and beyond a bevy of violet flowers, and it’s the American Step frame that subtly guides the viewer’s eye “into” the work. You could say the frame “invites” the viewer into the complex flower brushwork and the distant buildings simultaneously that the eye is not quite sure of which to focus on first. But with the American Step frame guiding the eye into the work, both in time will receive the attention they are due. On the other end of the spectrum, the second painting, also by Olendorf, is of the more modern Chicago Mercantile Exchange. In it you’ll find buildings that are taller than the perspective in the painting, and this vertically is strengthened by the straight-standing trees. This painting gives off the feeling of “up and up,” the opportunity and optimism that cities are known for. What you don’t want is for the frame to block this sense of growth and expansion. The American Step frame is also capable of helping the artwork expand, or “have a life” beyond its dimensions. It does this with a soft, quiet border that allows the eye to easily pass beyond it. These are two great examples of how artwork and frames can work together.

Tour Boat on the Seine by Tomlice

This wonderful painting by R. Tomlice from 1963 suffered from paint loss and a varnish that had streaked in areas which was the result of flood damage. Through restoration we carefully removed the varnish as well as deacidified it to mitigate a mold invasion. A custom Italian Florentine frame in gold was built and the artwork was then archivally placed inside it. We are very happy with the frame style and color, and how well it compliments the painting.

The Seine stretches 483 miles and connects the Paris basin to Le Havre, a major port in the Normandy region. “Seine” comes from Sequana, who was the Gallo-Roman goddess of the river. Due to the Seine’s central location within Paris, tour boats are able to pass along the Left Bank, Right Bank, Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, Louvre Museum, Orsay Museum, and Les Invalides, the burial site for Napoleon, as well as other attractions.

Picasso Manière noire

Manière noire literally means “black manner,” but artistically it’s the term for an aquatint made by scratching the plate with a wire brush, or another similar device, with the aim of achieving an overall texture. This work by Picasso was executed in 1968, and is print 23 of 50. The defining characteristic of this work is the unusual black border on the left-third. In the rest of the work you’ll find a series of figures with varying degrees of detail, as if Picasso is showing what is possible with the manière noire technique. In the center you’ll find a horse-drawn coach. This print is in very good condition and will only need to be deacidified. A new custom frame will be made which will show the full size of the picture, and then museum glass will cover it which is going to greatly help a work like this that is easily obscured by reflected light.

Manière noire is believed to have started in 1642 by an German amateur engraver, Ludwig von Siegen, and it is known for being the first printing process to allow gray levels without resorting to hatching or dotted lines.

A Modern Take on the Cassetta Frame

With the Renaissance causing an emergence of secular art subjects, there was a need for a new frame style, one that was different from the religious, Tabernacle style. The specific need was to diverge from the elaborate and imposing style of religious frames, which mimicked, on the small scale, Gothic architecture, and head toward a style that was more organized and refined. Cassetta translates to “little box,” and its meaning is reflected in the frame’s appearance: four straight sides with an entablature formate. The other fundamental shift was the change in how the frame related to the work. The Tabernacle frame had sought to be an extension of the artwork while the Cassetta frame tried to emphasize the artwork.

Due to its simplistic nature, the Cassetta frame is very versatile, and one that were were able to modernize in a symbiotic way to three distinct oil paintings by Bill Olendorf (1924-1996). Each custom frame received gilding, and also, to match the frame to the artwork, the panel was painted with the same temperature of color included in the artwork. These works were also plagued by a substantial invasion of mold, and required quite a bit of cleaning.