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.

Member International Fine Art Appraisers.

Louis Icart Etching Mimi Pinson

This Mimi Pinson print by Louis Icart (1888-1950) was on an acidic mount that had been attached heavily with glue on the reverse. Acid stains had worked their way to the front. We carefully removed the mount and used chemistry baths to target the stains. Blotters and weights then dried and flattened the work on paper. Mat and frame options are being discussed with the client. Stay tuned for more…

Louis Icart (French, 1888–1950) is considered to be a symbol of the Art Deco movement through his brilliant sketches and prints. He was born in Toulouse, France, as the first child of Jean and Elisabeth Icart. His interest in art began at an early age; he was particularly drawn to fashion sketches and designs. This was a time when the fashion industry was undergoing a revolution from the conservative 19th-century designs to the clingy simplicity of the early 20th century. Icart worked in major fashion studios where his L.I. initials on women’s clothing were highly regarded. He continued to sketch on every available surface while fighting in the First World War to ward off the anguish and agony of the war. He moved to Paris after the war to concentrate on painting and produced beautiful etchings. Icart’s prints were aquatints and drypoints elaborately done with great skill. They portrayed women in sensual, erotic poses with an implication of direct sexuality.

By the 1920s, the Art Deco movement had gained great popularity in Paris, France. Icart’s etchings and paintings, though largely influenced by Impressionists such as Claude Monet, were synonymous with the Art Deco era. His drawings also reflect the brilliance of Symbolists such as Gustave Moreau. However, Icart preferred not to be identified with artistic movements. Icart’s success financially and artistically came in the late 1920s.

His work was featured in fashion publications and design studios in Europe and the United States. His immensely popular images, which were considered phenomenal by 1925, included Laziness and Spilled Milk. His work has been exhibited in shows such as Paresse at RoGallery in Long Island, NY, and the Le Cachet in Binningen, Switzerland. His paintings are also featured at the Modern and Contemporary gallery in Fort Myers, FL. Hand-signed colored engravings by Icart can also be found at the Fine Arts Gallery Alte Kunste in Vienna, Austria, and at Zygman Voss Gallery in Chicago, IL. Icart died on December 20, 1950, at his home in Montmartre, France.

Source: Artnet

Lemon and Chalice Still Life by Unknown Artist

This painting came in with flood damage that had warped the canvas and caused extensive dryness. The dryness then lead to craquelures, cupping, and areas of loss. Furthermore, on top of the paint film, the flood also left behind a residue that was obscuring the natural colors.

After the painting was de-fit, new linen was lined on the reverse to provide a strong foundation, which is important when the paint film is dry. Hydration was applied to the cupped areas and then weights were used to flatten them back into plane. The craquelures were in-filled and in-painted, and then careful cleaning removed the residue and brought out the original colors.

Although the signature became more apparent after cleaning, and although we had hoped to figure it out, we were ultimately unable to identity the artist.

A new custom frame in the style of Roma Vintage was prepared with silver leaf.

Marriage Certificate from 1884 Renewed

This marriage certificate from 1884 came in with a mold invasion and problematical masking tape along the edges. The tape was carefully removed and a series of chemistry baths neutralized the mold. Some areas of the paper were compromised and failing. These areas were removed and replaced with new paper. Further areas had paper loss, and new paper was incorporated to these. The ink had faded and it was touched up to darken the lines.

 

Two Cora Bliss Taylor Portraits of One Sitter Finished

These two portraits by Cora Bliss Taylor (1889-1986) are of the same sitter, and we believe they were painted around twenty years apart. The first in the pictures was originally a full portrait but was cut at some point. Cleaning revealed there were more paint losses than originally thought. In-fill and in-painting concealed these areas. The second portrait had a dry paint film, and had suffered some cupping. After de-fit, it was re-lined with new linen to give it a stronger foundation. This was done in a heat press which also helped to stabilize the paint film where it had cupped. Further stabilization was done with a small iron to target the more difficult spots. In-painting concealed the lost areas, and careful cleaning was carried out across the entire surface.

Cora Bliss Taylor was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on April 14, 1889. Her father was a veteran of the Civil War and passed away when she was 1 years old. During her childhood, the family traveled around the United States, and France when she was 11 years old, which is where she received her first art lessons.

Cora visited Saugatuck, Michigan, which was to become her home, on her honeymoon in 1914, with her husband, James W. Taylor, a Chicago attorney. She studied painting at the Art Institute of Chicago with Leon Kroll and Leopold Seyffert; Charles W. Hawthorne, Provincetown, Massachusetts; Andre L. Hote in Paris; Morris Kantor, Art Students League, New York; and Vance Kirkland, Denver University. She was a contemporary of Georgia O’Keefe.

Mrs. Taylor won the Chicago Woman’s Aid Prize, Edward B. Butler Prize, and Fine Arts Building Prize from the Art Institute of Chicago where she exhibited a number of times. She also was accepted for a number of exhibitions at the Detroit Museum of Arts and won several prizes, including the American Association of University Women’s prize for her watercolor, “Abandoned”. In 1945, she won Honorable Mention for a painting exhibited at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. She exhibited at the Chicago Galleries Association and other private galleries. Cora was a member of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters, and is listed in the original edition of “Who’s Who of American Women”.

In 1931, she founded the Taylor Art School on Holland Street in Saugatuck, a summer art school, with visiting instructors. The Taylor Art Gallery attracted 2,000 visitors who signed the guest register that first year. In 1931, as Art Director of the Saugatuck Chamber of Commerce, she was instrumental in attracting many Chicago people to the Saugatuck area. Mrs. Taylor continued to teach painting for many years, specializing in children. Quite a few of her students went on to make a career in art.

Her paintings are hanging at Hope College, Holland, Michigan; Saugatuck Masonic Lodge, Chicago Public Schools, a number of Women’s clubs, Emerson Unitarian Church, Houston, Texas; Sheridan Public Schools, Sheridan, Texas; and many private homes in Chicago, Western Michigan, and other areas of the country.

Cora Bliss Taylor passed away at the age of 97 on April 21, 1986.

Cora Bliss Taylor, center with hat, circa 1941.

William Hogarth Intaglio Complete

These six intaglios from William Hogarth (1697 – 1764) came in with a fair amount of damage, primarily staining, but we did notice some old paper in-fill that was of a poor quality. Also, being quite old, these intaglios had accumulated a fair amount of dirt particulates. Main restoration efforts entailed de-acidification, critical for the health of any work on paper, and then reversing the old paper in-fill with new archival paper that matches the original. It was amazing to see how well these intaglios cleaned up and how much that helped reveal the detail of these compositions. Every corner seems to have its own scene, and there are numerous instances of miniature handwriting which now have impressive clarity.

Hogarth was born in 1697 near the East End cattle market of Smithfield. His father, Richard Hogarth, made an unsuccessful attempt to open a Latin-speaking coffeehouse, which left the family bankrupt, Richard confined to Fleet Prison, and the young William fending for himself.

After apprenticing at a silver workshop, where he mastered the art of engraving, Hogarth opened his own print shop. The artist’s first widespread notice came with the publication of The South Sea Scheme (1721), ridiculing the greed and corruption of stock market speculators. A Harlot’s Progress (1732) brought Hogarth tremendous success and celebrity, leading to a second morality series, A Rake’s Progress (1734).

Throughout the 1730s and 1740s, the artist’s reputation grew and so did his interest in social and moral reform. Hogarth’s work took on a distinctly propagandist tone, directed at the urbanization of London and the city’s problems with crime, prostitution, gambling, and alcoholism.

Industry and Idleness (1747) was designed to encourage young boys to develop a strong Protestant work ethic and thus achieve success. Beer Street and Gin Lane (1751), directed at the widespread sale and consumption of alcohol, were followed by The Four Stages of Cruelty(1751), which condemned rampant acts of cruelty to animals.

Hogarth died in 1764 in his home in Leicester Fields, leaving behind an extraordinary legacy. Working almost entirely outside the academic art establishment, he revolutionized the popular art market and the role of the artist. Hogarth strived to create works of great aesthetic beauty but also ones that would help to make London a better city for future generations.

Source: https://library.princeton.edu/hogarth/biography

William Hogarth (1697–1764). Hogarth Painting the Comic Muse, 1758. Etching and engraving. Graphic Arts Collection, Firestone Library.

Chuang Che Diptych

“No art can mature by itself; it has to absorb nutrition from the rest of the world’s art. I’ve always had this ideal; to see a fusion of Chinese and Western painting.” -Chuang Che

This fascinating diptych came into the studio recently and is by an artist we are becoming quite familiar with, Chuang Che (1934-).

This makes the sixth Chuang Che we’ve had in our studio over the past several years. The previous ones generally needed minimal restoration efforts and were then either shipped to auction in the Asian market or sold through private means. The diptych is in great condition and only needs light cleaning. Whether or not it will be heading to auction has to be determined. Stay tuned for more…

Chuang Che was born in Beijing, China. His father was the Vice-Director of the National Palace Museum and a calligrapher. He was a great influence on Chuang and the unlimited access to the treasures of the Museum had a lasting impact on his work. The family moved to Taiwan in 1948 where Chuang enlisted in the Taiwan Normal University to study Fine Art. He was taught by the likes of Chu Teh-Chun and other modernist Chinese artists who encouraged the influence of the West. In 1958 he became a founding member of the Fifth Moon Group, whose aim was to fuse the traditional practices of the East with modern techniques of the Western avant-garde. Chuang became immersed in the modernist movement which was flourishing in Taiwan at the time.

In 1966, Chuang won the J.D. Rockefeller III scholarship to travel to the US. The following year, the Cleveland Art Museum and the Detroit Institute of Arts purchased some of his works. In 1968 he visited his teacher Chu Teh-Chun in Paris, where he also met Zao Wou-Ki, with whom Che found a strong artistic connection. He also travelled to Spain and met abstract artist Antoni Tapies.

Chuang moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1972 and finally settled in New York in 1988, where he became an assistant to abstract expressionist sculptor Seymour Lipton.

Chuang Che was greatly inspired by Monet’s Nymphéas series. His own paintings are a combination of traditional Chinese landscapes and his influences from Western Abstract Expressionism. As a result, Chuang Che is labelled as a pioneering figure in Chinese Abstraction. His adaptation of Eastern technique to western materials enables him to fluidly combine these two influences.

Chuang Che’s work has been shown in museums worldwide such as at the Hong Kong Art Museum, National Museum of History, Taipei and Saginaw Art Museum, Michigan. In 1992 the Taipei Fine Arts Museum held his first major retrospective and most recently held another in 2016.

Chuang Che lives and works in New York.

Lewis Cross Self-Portrait

This self-portrait of Lewis Cross (1864-1951) suffered from delamination, and in some areas this was quite severe. Craquelures were prevalent throughout and there were areas of previous in-painting that left a matte finish and contrasted with the rest. The old wax reline had failed and was no longer helping to hold the paint film.

By using the paper face method we were able to provide support to the paint film to then, from the reverse, remove the failed wax reline. Delamination areas were then targeted with spot treatments of a restorer’s adhesive. New linen was provided as a support and adhered in a heat press which simultaneously helped consolidate the areas that were flaking.

After careful cleaning and removal of the old varnish, the lost areas were in-filled and in-painted. Conservation varnish finished the restoration.

A custom Krasner frame was prepared with white gold over red clay, with a baguette that helps protect the edge of the canvas and prevents the frame from covering the edge of the painting.

Lewis Lumen Cross was born in Tuscola County, likely northwest of Davison, Michigan, but moved to a farm just outside Spring Lake on the western shore of Michigan in 1872 where he spent the remainder of his life. He attended Northern Indiana Normal School and Business Institute (Now Valparaiso University) at Valparaiso, Indiana, briefly between 1883-84 where he studied drawing and penmanship. Later, likely at the same place, he studied oil painting, a medium which he preferred.  There is no other evidence of any formal study.

Cross was referred to as an “incurable romantic” (Grand Rapids Herald, 28 February, 1940). He devoted his attention to subjects around him and, perhaps, was aware that this life was about to change; a feeling that was especially true of the passenger pigeons that he featured in a number of works. This same article stated that “Cross has taken care through the years to see that the outdoor glory that once was the district’s should not fade so long as canvas can hold good oils portraying memory’s patterns.”

The artist is known to have exhibited only a few times during his lifetime, including once in 1890 at the Detroit Museum of Art where he displayed a still-life of Crescent Strawberries.

Édouard Cortès, Porte St Denis

This wonderful Parisian painting by Edouard Cortes (1882 – 1969), Portre St Denis, came into the studio with a few small scuff marks. We are currently assessing its auction value and then are going to decide with the client how in-depth of a restoration is needed, and ultimately whether or not they would like to pursue auction. If that turns out to be the case, we will advise them to the strongest markets, negotiate contracts with auctions houses, and upon selecting a venue, crate and ship the painting with the safest means possible. Stay tuned for more…

Édouard Leon Cortès, of French and Spanish ancestry, was born in 1882. As an adolescent, he became fascinated with the arts and at seventeen began his studies at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.  In 1901 he contributed a dramatic Parisian street scene at dusk to the Salon des Artistes Français, which brought him immediate fame. Later, as an active member of the prestigious Société des Artistes Français, Cortès exhibited his works yearly at the Société Nationale and the Salon des Independants in Paris.

On the topic of Cortès and his relationship to Paris, biographer David Klein writes: “Paris changed during the years that Cortès painted it, and the changes appear in his paintings.  Horses and carriages disappear in favor of cars and trams; women’s hourglass silhouettes and picture hats give way to boyish figures in short skirts and little furs, gas streetlights turn into neon signs and glaring headlights.  But despite two world wars and the introduction of the machine age, the Paris of Cortès remains primarily the city of the Belle Epoque.  His paintings are often filled with nostalgia for the period.

The period we know today as La Belle Époque lasted from about 1880 to 1914. Many revolutionary ideas in politics, technology, science, poetry, music, literature and the fine arts emerged in Paris during this vibrant time. Paris was the cosmopolitan, fashionable stage on which the drama of the Belle Epoque was enacted.  The city itself was in a state of dramatic change. The campaign of rebuilding undertaken by Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann in the 1850’s, 60’s, 70’s yielded wide tree-lined avenues, extensive parks, and elegant golden-gray stone buildings. Parisians thronged the new boulevards, parks and theatres to see and to be seen.  In 1888 the Figaro Illustré devoted a special issue to this “spectacle de la rue”, calling the boulevards “the true theatre of Paris”.

His paintings express the romance, energy and charm of old Paris through his masterly application of bold brush strokes and intriguing colors. His works display the profound knowledge he held of perspective and composition; and, the viewer’s eye is most often caught by fascinating details – the play of lights on wet pavement, shadows on streets and glowing windows and street lamps. On any one of Cortès’ canvases, one can find an array of tones ranging from soft gray hues and ambers to vivid reds, yellows and oranges. A splash of purple may be a man’s tailored dinner jacket or a stroke of blue, a woman’s cloak. The viewer cannot help but marvel at the overall effect of the artist’s composition.

After a life long dedication to seizing the magic of Paris during its transition from the romantic Belle Epoque to the modern, twentieth century metropolis as we know it, Cortès has left the world a legacy of master paintings. Now found in the most prestigious collections throughout the world, his work continues to awe collectors.

Polka Landscape of Kalamazoo River

This painting by John Polka (1930-2006), Sailing on the Kalamazoo, came in with a hole caused by an abrasion, as well as the surface covered by tar and nicotine contaminates.

From the reverse, the threads of canvas along the abrasion were re-weaved and adhered with a restorer’s adhesive. A finishing coat was then applied consisting of an acrylic material that has the ability to consolidate and dry clear. In-painting was then carried out on the front to conceal the area. Careful cleaning lifted the tar, nicotine, and dirt impurities from the paint film; this revealed the brighter, original colors. Conservation varnish finished the restoration.

John Polka came from a family of Hoteliers in Europe. He received his early training in Germany at a health spa his father ran. The family was there at the time of the outbreak of World War II, and were subsequently stuck there. To keep busy, Pollka began to paint with the director, who was a summer painter, and later with a professional artist who had fled Berlin. Polka often painted large canvases of Victorian era ladies and flowers in a romantic style. Eventually, he made his way to Saugatuck and was an instrumental art figure, opening the Polka Gallery on Water street.

During his 30 years in Saugatuck his style changed, as well as his subjects. Finely-painted details gave way to broad stokes and impressionistic drawings with bold colors and hazy outlines. His dunes were done with surprising colors: gold trees and magenta sand.

Recordings of his interviews as well as his artwork can be found at the Old School House in Douglas, Michigan.

The Old School House 

Werner Koepf Collection

Roughly 70 artworks by Werner Koepf (1909-1992) have made their way to our studio. They represent the Koepf art estate and will be restored to ensure their integrity, and then sent to auction. The unusual aspect of this job is that, since Koepf lacks an established auction history, in order to not saturate the market, we’ll have to strategically coordinate a slow release and essentially establish his market; and by doing this, the project has an unusually lengthy scope for us: we expect it to take several years.

Restoration efforts have already begun and these artworks have been maintained well so the amount of care they need is only going to have to be minimal.

Werner Koepf was born in Neckarsulum, Baden-Württemberg, Germany and emigrated with his parents and brother to the United States in 1929. During the Great Depression he worked as a house painter. In 1937 his work was prominently mentioned in the New York Times’ review of The Society of Independent Artists 19th Annual Exhibition. With his talent he gained many connections in the art world: Morris Kantor, a trustee of Contemporary Arts arranged three scholarships for Koepf at the Art Students League from 1937-1939, and Daniel Catton Rich, the Director of Fine Arts at the Art Institute of Chicago paved the way for his inclusion in the Institute’s 52nd Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture in 1941.

Koepf served in the US Army during World War II. Starting as a translator, between 1942-1945, he was then transferred to the European Theater where he served with the 496th Heavy Automotive Ordnance Company. In November 1945, he returned to the United States and settled in Derby, Connecticut.

In 1952 he was accepted into Yale University where he was awarded the prize for outstanding achievement in the School of Fine Arts for 1952-1953 by Josef Albers. Maintaining his European contacts, Koepf showed numerous paintings, including one man shows in Paris, Stockholm, and Bremen.

Werner Koepf died at his home in March of 1992.