A Pair of Watercolors: Loria and Lewis

This watercolor by Vincenzo Loria (1850-1939) suffered from acid burns caused by the mount it was on. These burns gave a orange color to the artwork. Furthermore, the mount had been adhered with a glue that leached onto the edges of the painting, which caused areas of loss. On the back, non-archival tape was used, and on the front dirt particulates had found their way onto the surface.

Chemistry baths neutralized the acids that were then pulled from the paper with blotters. This also cleaned the paper. The glue along the edges was removed and then in-painting concealed the areas of loss.

Vincenzo Loria was born in Salerno, Italy, and went to Naples to study under Domenico Morelli. He exhibited at Turin, Milan, Venice, and Naples. While he did do a few oil paintings, he is most known for watercolors.

This watercolor by Edmund Darch Lewis (1835-1910) suffered from being applied to a mount that contained acids. These acids migrated to the paper and through an interaction caused stains. Chemistry baths neutralized them, and the delicate task of removing the mount was also handled as this time. The pigment losses, most prevalent along the edges, were likely due to water damage stemming from a flood. These areas were in-painted, and then the watercolor was mounted on a cotton rag museum board.

Edmund Darch Lewis was born in Philadelphia. At age fifteen, he studied under Paul Weber. His initial works were landscapes and marine views. He had the good fortune of his artwork being in high demand even at the beginning of his career. Philadelphia, Cuba, and the New England were the major focus of his early career. He transitioned to Cape May, New Jersey, and Narragansett, Rhode Island. He frequently depicted schooners drifting in calm waters, churning mills, and hidden cottages. Lewis favored watercolor, but also used oils and gouache.

Due to his financial success in painting, he amassed a large and diverse collection of artworks. It included a throne that belonged to Napoleon I, a set of drawing room furniture from the Borghese Palace in Rome, and the original sketch for Alexandre Cabanel’s Birth of Venus. His mansion in Philadelphia consisted of two connecting houses and additional annexes that were filled with period furniture, china, and decorative arts. Lewis entertained in a grand style, hosting a number of exhibitions and events in his opulent home.

Lewis exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1854-69) and was elected an associate of the Academy in 1859. He also showed at the National Academy of Design in New York (1860), the Boston Athenaeum (1858-69), and the Brooklyn Art Association (1862-70).

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