Dutch Winterscene

This wonderful oil on panel has a period Dutch frame that unfortunately has a number of problems and will need a full restoration. Those problems include ornamentation falling off, corners pulled apart, areas with lost gilding, and improper spacing that is strenuous for the painting.

Casts will be prepared to redo the ornamentation, and the corners re-joined. Where the gesso was lost, new gesso will be applied. Back-up will be added to allow the painting to sit with greater freedom, and the epoxy on the panel will be removed,  and the cupping and cracking existent there, will be repaired with a combination of restorer adhesives.

The painting has a varnish that has aged into a milky color. It will need to be removed, which will be more challenging than usual. Early tests have revealed a wonderful touch of white in the varnish that the artist used to mimic snow. Shellac also landed on the paint surface and left splotches. These will be carefully removed.

We discovered a signature behind the rabbet and are in the process of identifying it.

Textile of Washington at Mount Vernon

This family heirloom came in with a fungal invasion, and acid contamination that we believe to have been caused by a stretcher bar. Cleaning, drying, and pressing prepared the textile for an archival mount onto foamcore that was then covered with a single-ply linen mat. A custom frame in the American Hicks style with veneer and black corner blocks was prepared and then given archival glass to finish. Every family heirloom is unique, but this particular textile, with the restoration and custom frame, gave us the opportunity to impart our diverse talents, to what we know will be a cherished keepsake for many years to come.

Christine Sullivan Frames for New Show

We were very honored to work again with the artist Christine Sullivan, framing her artwork for an upcoming exhibition of Cape Cod seascapes. The exhibition opens July 6th, and runs through the 26th, and is at the Oils by the Sea / ROCCAPRIORE Gallery in Provincetown, Massachusetts. We’ve collaborated with Christine for the last three years, and have even designed a personal frame for her that we call the Sullivan Float. For this exhibition, some artwork was given that frame style, and others were given a Modernist Step. Both styles were given white gold.

Sullivan is a representational abstract landscape painter. Her subject matter captures the hard-working, celebrated life on the family farms of rural New York State and the fishermen’s life on the salt waters of Cape Cod and northern Florida. Geography has always been one of her strongest inspirations: “The . . . organic scents and earthy hues found close to the land and sea were embedded upon my soul at a very young age and continue to inform and influence my life and work.”

Alice L. Williams Watercolor Repairs

Once we carefully removed this Alice L. Williams (mid 20th century) watercolor from its mount we discovered a pair of significant tears. To the reverse we added new paper, of a similar composition, and then in-painted on the front. These tears had not been visible while the watercolor was on its mount, which offers some explanation as to why it was used. We’ve replaced it with a museum rag mount that will not introduce acid contamination like its predecessor. The watercolor also underwent chemistries baths, to remove acids and molds, and was then blotted dry. Special thanks to Sarah Harris of The Nines who will frame this work for the Ox-Bow Summer Benefit, that takes place on Saturday, July 7.

Alice L. Williams was a member of Ox-Bow, having followed her mother’s footsteps, Olive, who built the Mary K cottage at Ox-bow in the 1920s. The local legend is that this cottage has a reputation for ghosts, missing tools, moved equipment, and flickering lights.

Hobbe Smith Watercolor

This charming and exquisite watercolor came in with extreme acid burns. With the help of Dr. Jacob E. Nyenhuis we were able to identity the signature as Hobbe Smith (1862-1942). After careful removal from the mat and taping, a targeted chemistry baths lifted the acid stains. The watercolor was then allowed to dry flat which returned a crispness to the paper. The clarity of the cleaning will help us determine the style and color for a new frame. Stay tuned for more . . .

Hobbe Smith was the son of a house painter. His first formal art instruction came while he was an apprentice to a lithographer and continued as a member of Quellinusschool, an Amsterdam school for sculptors named after the Quellinus family and founded in 1877. Due to a wealthy patron who admired his work, he received a Royal Scholarship and studied at Rijksakadmie with August Allebe, a major promoter of Amsterdam Impressionism, a style Smith would adopt.

He continued his studying at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp with Charles Verlat. His subject matter included nudes, still life, portraits, historical scenes, sea- river- and town-views. In 1888, he won the Willink van Collenprijs, and received international notoriety after an exhibition at the Pulchri Studio in 1902. A gold medal recipient from Queen Wilhelmina in 1917, he was also a member of Arti et Amicitiae and Sint Lucas.

Cora Bliss Taylor Floral

This oil painting suffers from paint loss and surface contaminates. Early cleaning tests have revealed the underlying color tones to be much brighter than what’s shown in its current state.

We would like to extend a sincere thank you to the Saugatuck Woman’s Club and the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society for hosting our lecture yesterday evening. It was a great experience to share our restoration abilities and what effects they can have on artwork, and the response we received was truly overwhelming. We strongly believe in community outreach and broadening culture, and we feel very fortunate for the opportunity we were given.

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.

Alice L. Williams Watercolor

This Alice L. Williams (mid 20th century) watercolor came to us in rather rough shape. Extensive foxing has degraded the paper enough to make holes. Also, major acid contamination occurred from the wood pulp board the watercolor was placed on.

Alice L. Williams was a member of Ox-Bow, following in her mother’s footsteps, Olive, who built the Mary K cottage at Ox-bow in the 1920s. The local legend is that this cottage has a bit of a reputation for ghosts, missing tools, moved equipment, and flickering lights.

Restoration began with the careful removal of the watercolor from its mount. Further stages to come will include de-acidification and the mending of the tears. This restoration is in preparation for the Ox-Bow Summer Benefit, that takes place on Saturday, July 7.  

Restored: HOERMAN KALAMAZOO RIVER OVERLOOKING OX BOW

A shocking discovery was waiting for us when we started to clean this Carl Hoerman (1885 – 1955). The artist had used copper paint that reflects, particularly in the orange and red tones, when the light catches it just right. The first few photographs show this attribute. This would have been a very early instance for copper paint. Cleaning continued with great results, as shown by the in-process photographs. Previously, we had sutured the tears on the reverse. These were in-filled and then concealed on the front with in-painting. The original frame suffered from water damage and was also restored. Its key corners were rejoined and re-laminated. A few gauges were also in the frame, and the frame had aged into a brassy color. New gesso and clay were applied before re-gilding and adding new finish.

Ivory Sculptures

A pair of very intricate and fascinating ivory sculptures came in. They were purchased a long time ago and are likely Chinese in origin. The chrysanthemum sculpture sits above a vase that actually contains fish and seaweed.

Trouble stemmed from the flower base and how it freely rests on the wooden base. It’s very top heavy and it fell over and hit the dragon sculpture, which stood nearby, cracking the base of the dragon and causing it to lean down, lowering the birdcage. There were also a “few” broken flower pieces.

An old restoration left epoxy glue that had turned brown. This will, however, offer some clues as to which pieces go where, but the puzzle aspect of the restoration will likely prove to be the most challenging part. To reattach the ivory we’ll use a pair of restorer-grade epoxies, one of which is a glass epoxy and will dry clear. And to protect the chrysanthemum sculpture for the future, we’ll fortify the base making it more sturdy.

The United States banned the sale of ivory objects in 2016. Exempt items include instruments and firearms containing less than 200 grams of ivory, and antiques professionally appraised to be at least a century old. The price per pound of ivory went as high as $1,500, and an estimated 100,000 elephants were poached between 2012-2014.

Peter Max Drawing

This black and white Peter Max (1937-) drawing had fungal and acid invasions, staining, and old tape adhered to it, all of which caused discoloration. A series of three chemistry baths treated these issues and helped bring out the brilliant ink lines that can appear simple when done with the hand of someone talented.

Peter Max was born in Berlin but his family moved to China when he was still very young. They lived in a pagoda-style house amidst a Buddhist monastery, a Sikh temple and a Viennese cafe. From American comic books, radio broadcasts and cinema shows, young Max formed an impression of the land of Captain Marvel, Flash Gordon, swing jazz, swashbucklers, freedom and creativity. Ten years later the family made what turned what would turn out to be a slow westerly migration that ended up in the New York City, taking 6 years, and including stops in Nepal, Israel, and Paris.

Max trained at the Art Students League, Pratt Institute, and the School of Visual Arts, all in New York. After closing his design studio in 1964, Peter began creating his characteristic paintings and graphic prints.

As the ’60s progressed, his photo collage style gave way to his “Cosmic ’60s” style, characterized by distinctive line work and bold Fauvistic color combinations. It became his signature style and is said to have developed as a spontaneous creative urge following a meeting with Swami Satchidananda, an Indian Yoga master who taught Max meditation and the spiritual teachings of the East.

His unique symbolism and vibrant color palette have continued to inspire new generations of Americans throughout the decades. He is also a passionate environmentalist and defender of human and animal rights, often dedicating paintings and posters for these noteworthy causes. His decorative designs are on a Boeing 777 Continental, Dale Earnhardt’s #3 Millennium race car, U.S. postage stamps and 235 U.S. border murals. He created two 155-foot murals for the U.S. Pavilion at the Seville World’s Fair in Spain, 12 postage stamps for the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and a 600-foot stage mural for Woodstock 2. He has also painted for five U.S. presidents, as well as the Beatles, Aerosmith, and the Rolling Stones.

After September 11th, 2001 Peter Max began a project by finishing 356 portraits of the firefighters that were lost in the attack. His portraits were then given to the victims’ families. In addition, from a special request from President George W. Bush, he recently created another 356 portraits for a firefighters’ memorial.

He loves to hear amazing facts about the universe and is as fascinated with numbers and mathematics as he is with visual phenomena.

“If I didn’t choose art, I would have become an astronomer. . . I [am] fascinated with the vast distances in space as well as the vast world within the atom.”