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.

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