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.

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.

Edgar A. Rupprecht Landscape

This Edgar A. Rupprecht (1889-1954) landscape was done on a very lightweight linen that, over time, has caused some issues. Dehydration to the canvas and the paint film have led to craquelures. This issue is heightened by the canvas cut very close to the size of the stretcher bar, and with how much the stretcher-bar was keyed-out at the corners. As you can tell from the cleaning tests, the cotton tips picked up a fair amount of dirt contaminates.

Edgar Rupprecht was born in 1889 in Zanesville, Ohio. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago under Harry Wolcott, John Norton, and Karl Buehr; and was also influenced by the ultra-conservative Kenyon Cox, who visited Chicago in the spring of 1911 when he delivered the famous Scammon lectures. Cox also taught at the Art Institute, where he noticed that students were stressing expression over drawing and design, an influence that would have made its way into Rupprecht’s style.

Rupprecht won the Goodman Prize at the Art Institute in 1922 and the Holmes Prize in the following year. Perhaps Cox’s “Classic Point of View” was not what Rupprecht was looking for, as he enrolled in 1925 at Hans Hoffmann’s Schule für Moderne Kunst (School for Modern Art), taught by Hofmann himself. He became Hoffman’s assistant at The School for Modern Art’s summer sessions at Capri (1925-27) and Saint Tropez (1928-29). But the school was closed in 1932 due to hostilities from the Nazis Party.

Rupprecht did not continue down the modernist road. His style changed to a more realist-orient approach that maintained the principles of outlined forms and abstraction. This final style was closer to Charles Burchfield and other American Scene painters. The titles of Rupprecht’s works exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago between 1916 and 1948 suggest recognizable (if not strictly realistic) images, such as The Inlet and Setting Sail. It is possible that he was conforming to the dictates of the Public Works of Art Project during the 1930s, when government officials advised artists to submit only realistic works. Rupprecht was a member of the Chicago Society of Artists and he worked for the Federal Arts Project Easel Division until 1936.

Tallmadge and Watson Architect Sketch

This first edition sketch by Tallmadge and Watson Architects of the Saugatuck Woman’s Club just came in. It’s a wonderful piece of history and has great cultural significance for the area. As the photographs detail, a piece plywood had been fitted to the back, and this introduced a substantial amount of acid contaminates.

After de-fitting the sketch was rather smelly and we promptly placed it in a chemistry bath. Along the edges you can see the dark brown color caused by wood exposure on the back plus the rabbets on the side. Even the grain of the plywood has been acid-burned into the back of the paper. The frame is rather dirty, but it is cleaning up nicely.

In 1905 Thomas Tallmadge decided to start his own architectural firm with draftsman Vernon S. Watson. Although Watson was the chief designer, Tallmadge became the face of the firm due to his commitment as a historian and teacher. He taught at the Armour Institute of Technology from 1906 to 1926. Tallmadge is credited for coining the term “Chicago school” in an article for Architectural Review to describe the recent trends in architecture pioneered by Burnham, Louis Sullivan, and others. Tallmadge took sole control over the firm after Watson retired in 1936. They were best known for their Prairie School works.

Informal by Tadeusz Kantor

This oil panting by Tadeusz Kantor (1915 – 1990) called Informal came in not needing a whole lot of work–it’s on its way to auction. We did address the surface contaminates that were across the painting. You can see how much we were able to get based on the pictures with the cotton tips. Kantor used very interesting techniques with translucent gel-coatings that are similar to vanish but have pigments that create a skin-like surface. Due to this we exercised caution and conservatism when cleaning the painting.

Tadeusz Kantor (6 April 1915 – 8 December 1990) was a Polish painter, assemblage artist, set designer and theatre director. Kantor is renowned for his revolutionary theatrical performances in Poland and abroad.

Born in Wielopole Skrzynskie, Galicia (then in Austria-Hungary), Kantor graduated from the Cracow Academy in 1939. During the Nazi occupation of Poland, he founded the Independent Theatre, and served as a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków as well as a director of experimental theatre in Kraków from 1942 to 1944. After the war, he became known for his avant-garde work in stage design including designs for Saint Joan (1956) and Measure for Measure (1956). Specific examples of such changes to standard theatre were stages that extended out into the audience, and the use of mannequins as real-life actors.

Disenchanted with the growing institutionalization of avant-garde, in 1955 he with a group of visual artists formed a new theatre ensemble called Cricot 2. In the 1960s, Cricot 2 gave performances in many theatres in Poland and abroad, gaining recognition for their stage happenings. His interest was mainly with the absurdists and Polish writer and playwright Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz (also known as “Witkacy”). Stage productions of Witkacy’s plays The Cuttlefish (1956) and The Water Hen (1969) were regarded as his best achievements during this time. A 1972 performance of The Water Hen was described as “the least-publicized, most talked-about event at the Edinburgh festival”.

Dead Class (1975) was the most famous of his theatre pieces of the 1970s. In the play, Kantor himself played the role of a teacher who presided over a class of apparently dead characters who are confronted by mannequins which represented their younger selves. He had begun experimenting with the juxtaposition of mannequins and live actors in the 1950s.

His later works of the 1980s were very personal reflections. As in Dead Class, he would sometimes represent himself on stage. In the 1990s, his works became well known in the United States due to presentations at Ellen Stewart’s La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, which inspired Lower East Side cultural leaders such as the Nuyorican poet Giannina Braschi.[1]

Throughout his life, Kantor had an interesting and unique relationship with Jewish culture, despite being a nominal Catholic, Kantor incorporated many elements of what was known as “Jewish theatre” into his works.

Kantor died in Kraków.

Fish Fertilizer Canvas Banner Waterbath

Time for “catch and release” for this fish fertilizer banner. We had it swimming around in a large water bath at our new studio. We used our filtered water and select chemistry to get at the dirt contaminates, which came off so easily they clouded the water. We captured some of this on video. This guy’s not quite ready to be released fully. Check back for more. . .

The Jarecki Chemical Co. established by Gustav Jarecki in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1881. Gustav Jr, working for his father, was sent to Ohio to start a plant in Sandusky. Located on the foot of First Street, and adjacent to Sandusky Bay, its location made it convenient for obtaining fish, and also for shipping the final product by water. One of the best selling products at the Sandusky factory was a fertilizer made from fish by-products. The plant operated from 1887 to 1920, when it was sold to the Armour Fertilizer Co. (Armour ceased operations in Sandusky in the 1960s.) In the early 1900s, Gustav Jarecki, Jr. moved to Cincinnati where he established another branch of the company.

Hoerman Grand Canyon

This Carl Hoerman (1885 – 1955) painting suffered from dirt contamination and a sizable scratch in the top-left. Once it was cleaned we noticed the area with the scratch had been over-scrubbed, resulting in paint loss. This was from someone’s prior attempt to repair the work. In-painting was carried out to conceal this area. While the painting isn’t dated, we noticed that the board it was painted on is rather old, and this leads us to believe that it is an early work by Hoerman.

Hoerman and his wife, Christiana, who was also an artist, took a trip to Pike’s Peak in 1926. By the following year, Hoerman had started to paint desert scenes. During the 1930s, the couple would spend their winters in southern California, escaping those of the Saugatuck, Michigan area.

Ivory Sculptures Finished

Finishing touches to the ivory sculptures were made. We counted 37 broken flower leaves that were supported with tape while the Jade 403 hardened. For the pieces that suffered a rough shape from the fall, drilling was needed to smooth these areas and give a good fit. This was the same method of attachment the original artist would have used. We were pleasantly surprised by the wonderful and natural shine that came out from our careful cleaning. These statues are rather impressive pieces and were very rewarding objects to restore.