Unveiling of Portrait for Former Hope President Voskuil

The 13th president of Hope College, Rev. Dr. Dennis Voskuil, was appointed in 2017 to serve while a search was conducted for the successor to Dr. John C. Knapp, who left to become president of Washington & Jefferson College in Pennsylvania. President Voskuil began his career at Hope as an assistant professor of religion in 1977. He became an associate professor of religion in 1982 and a full professor of religion in 1988. He was tenured in 1983 and became chair of the religion department in 1984, serving as chair until 1990 and again from 1992–94.

Voskuil will be succeeded on July 1 by Matthew A. Scogin ’02, who was named president-elect on Dec. 7.

The portrait artist was Larry Blovits (1936-). He is known for oil and pastel portraits, as well as landscapes. He has received numerous awards and honors in national shows since 1962.

It was our honor to prepare an American impressionist frame in 22 karat with a Greek key motif. The motif symbolizes the bonds of friendship, love, devotion, as well as the flow of life. The Rev. Dr. Dennis Voskuil is blessed with a joyful personality, which we believe is accentuated by the rich, resplendent quality of the gilding.

We are honored to have crafted all 13 of the frames for the Hope College presidential portraits. Here is a Holland Sentinel article that details the collection and the work we’ve done to it: Miller Fenwood completes Hope College art renovations.

Zhou Brothers “The Sun Hunter”

This painting from the Zhou Brothers, “The Sun Hunter,” was done in 1990. Mold invasions had strong holds along the bottom of the reverse and along the two sides. This is a mixed media artwork and the more turbulent surface is captured in some of the photographs. These turbulent areas were also capturing quite a bit of surface contaminates.

Da Huang & Shan Zuo have collaboratively painted together their entire art career. Their education includes a MFA in Painting, Fresco Painting at the National Academy for Arts in Beijing, and a BFA in Theater and Art at the University of Shanghai, Shanghai. They currently work from a studio located in Chicago, Illinois. The Zhou Bothers are internationally acclaimed in museums worldwide. Some of their achievements are the Distinguished Artist Award presented by the Organizing Committee of 2008, the United Nations Spring Festival in 2008, the Lincoln Award in 2006, the Golden Lion Award in 2005, and the American Immigrant Achievement Award in 2004.

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).

Pair of Copper Plates by William Aiken Walker

These two great pieces of Americana are oil paintings done on copper plates by the artist William Aiken Walker (1839 – 1921). Copper has always been a great preserver of oil paint, and we’re glad to say that the foundational aspects for these two works are rather good. It’s likely that they have never been varnished and, as you can imagine, they are quite covered with surface contaminates. And due to the nature of copper and how it can corrode when contacted with cleaning solvents, we’ll have to be gentle in our approach and use a gel system. We can’t wait to see the natural colors and the clarity of the details that are already quite impressive. Stay tuned for more…

William Aiken Walker (1839-1921) was an American artist who was born to an Irish Protestant father and a mother of South Carolina background in Charleston, South Carolina in 1839.  In 1842, when his father died, Walker’s mother moved the family to Baltimore, Maryland, where they remained until returning to Charleston in 1848.

In 1861, during the American Civil War, Walker enlisted in the Confederate army and served under General Wade Hampton in the Hampton’s Legion.  He was wounded at the Battle of Seven Pines (1862).  After recuperating, he was transferred back to Charleston, where he was assigned picket duty, which gave him time to paint.  For the next two years, he made maps and drawings of Charleston’s defenses.  He was separated from the military at the end of 1864.  After the Civil War, Walker moved to Baltimore, where he produced small paintings of the “Old South” to sell as tourist souvenirs.

He is best known for his paintings depicting the lives of poor black emancipated slaves, especially sharecroppers in the post-Reconstruction American South.  Two of his paintings were reproduced by Currier and Ives as chromolithographs.

Walker continued painting until his death on January 3, 1921 in Charleston, where he is buried in the family plot at Magnolia Cemetery.

Japanese Doll

This Japanese doll suffered from sun damage that had really effected the red colors making them a lighter shade. Adhering the kimono to the doll were pins, and to the pedestal were nails. There was also a stain on the pedestal.

The first approach to strengthen the color of the red fabric was less invasive and used dyes, but after tests it was determined this was not going to give the desired result. Period Japanese silk that was used for kimonos was then ordered from Japan. From the waist up all of the red fabric was replaced, and at the the bottom, where the kimono was attached to the pedestal by nails, it was determined that nail removal would be more damaging to the kimono than the fabric replacement, and therefore the original fabric was left.

The stain on the pedestal was tested with numerous solutions of different strengths. Unfortunately none of these was more effective than being able to lighten the color of the stain. In-painting was then used in the area to conceal the presence.

Albrecht Durer Woodcut of Samson Rending the Lion

This woodcut print by Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) is one of the older works to have come into the studio. But considering its age, the work is in fairly good shape. Along the left there are some rust stains. The top region has a number of holes courtesy a few hungry insects. General brown discoloration is due to acid stains. And the paper was split in the middle.

A water bath was used to help coax the print from its mount, which was a very delicate process. Fortunately, both the print and the backing were of good paper quality, and the adhesive that had been used appears to have been either rice paste or wheat paste. Both are conservation friendly as they’re pH neutral, non-acidic, and are reversible in water.

A second water bath was used to help lift the acid stains even more. Rice paper was used like a barge to give greater control over the submersion, and to support the print when it needed to be lifted from the water. The heat press helps dry and flatten the print.

The Met has the original woodcut for Samson Rending the Lion and they have a wonderful writeup: “Dürer elevated the medium of woodcut to an unprecedented level of technical virtuosity. In Samson Rending the Lion, he achieved striking pictorial effects that vie with those created in contemporary engravings. Remarkable gradations of tone were realized in the lion’s mane—all the more amazing if one considers that each tapered black line in the print was formed in the woodblock by chipping away the wood on either side of the intended line. Such expert and self-assured handling is particularly characteristic of Dürer’s early woodcuts, dating to the 1490s. A print engraved about twenty years earlier by Israel van Meckenem served as the source for Dürer’s powerful depiction of the Old Testament hero who, “suddenly seized” by the spirit of God, “tore the lion to pieces as if it were a kid” (Judges 14:6). The weaponless Samson is here shown on the lion’s back, one foot pressed into its neck as he forces open its mouth.”

Albrecht Durer was born in Nuremberg, Germany on May 21, 1471, the second of eighteen children in the family of a master goldsmith. Fifteen of the children died at an early age and Durer’s mother was often sick, especially in the last years of her life. Although his father was not pleased with his artistic ambitions, at the age of fifteen, Durer was apprenticed to a painter.

Durer is arguable the greatest artist in German history. By adopting the new forms of the Italian quattrocento and connecting them to the already robust tradition of the German print, he almost single-handedly provoked the Northern Renaissance. He had an insatiably inquisitive mind and this led him to be an avid travel, which he started in 1490 before he was nineteen. Up to this time he had spent a four year apprenticeship with master painter and engraver, Michael Wolgemut. He then went to Colmar, France to work under Martin Schongauer, but it took him two years to reach Colmar, and by then Schongauer was dead. His wanderings across Europe included two trips to Venice that were capped  by a year-long sojourn in The Netherlands, where he was a celebrity among celebrities.

In moving from Nuremberg to Venice, Durer reversed a whole direction of cultural priorities. The center to which German artists had previously looked were Bruges and Ghent in Flanders, along with the northern Gothic style shaped there by artists like the Van Eycks and Hugo van der Goes. What fascinated Durer was Italian humanism and all that flowed from the discovery of classical antiquity.

Durer married Agnes Frey in 1494, and in the same year made his first visit to Venice. He would return there in 1505 and stay for two years. Meanwhile he built a great house which still stands on the castle hill in Nuremberg. Durer was a rather indifferent and rude husbands. On his own he took his wife’s dowry and setup a graphics workshop, the products of which his wife was tasked with sitting at the markets and fairs and trying to sell them. He seldom traveled with her and many years later, when he did take her on a trip to the Netherlands, he allowed her to accompany him to only one of the many banquets given in his honor. When they did stay at home, she was left upstairs to eat with the maid.

The success of Durer’s work led the way for other German artists, Matthias Grunewald, Albrecht Altdorfer, Hans Holbein the Younger and Martin Luther’s great friend, Lucas Cranach, all of whose work made Germany for half a century the leader of the Northern Renaissance.


Tiger Stadium Peanut Vendor Apron

This is an apron from Tiger Stadium believed to have been worn by peanut vendors. Grease stains were along the front and part of the embroidery had been lost. We cleaned the apron and re-stitched some of lettering to match the original. Vintage postcards from Tiger Stadium were placed with the apron in a new maple shadow box frame with a fabric mount.

Art Installation

New artwork installed at a client’s home. We just wanted to highlight this service as it’s something that can be more complex than you’d think. And it’s something we have a great deal of experience with, and we’ve even mastered the ability to do it over stairs.

The square artwork is by Jacob Hashimito (1973-) and the the round artwork is a woven wooden circular and the artist is unknown.

The Cabinet du Roi: “Ceiling of the Great Staircase of the Palace Versailles”

At the Palace of Versailles, The Great Stair, also called the Abassador’s Staircase, was built in 1674-1679 to provide a ceremonial access to the king’s state apartment. Its walls and ceiling were lavishly decorated under the supervision of Charles Le Brun. Polychrome marble, gilt bronzes, and paintings all lit by its glass roof were some of its features. The decor celebrated the victory of the king in the Dutch War (1672-1678) and, on the landing, several illusionistic paintings celebrated the military glory of Louis XIV. Unfortunately, in 1752, to renovate in favor of additional apartments for Louis XV’s daughters, The Great Stair was destroyed. Only one painted panel escaped destruction, but a complete visual record in black and white exists thanks to more than thirty large and intricate prints created between 1679 and 1725.

Coinciding with the construction, an extravagant publishing project was undertaken that would become known as the Cabinet du Roi (King’s Cabinet). Colbert, the kings Minister of Finances, supervised the project collecting the best French printmakers to produce hundreds of large and detailed engravings of the royal collections and accomplishments. Beginning in 1670, some of these print series were combined with descriptive texts and published as books, while others remained without text and were bound and distributed as needed.

This copy of The Cabinet du Roi is believed to have been made around 1710. It does contain a number of expected maladies: staining, fungal invasions, and fingerprints. However, the paper quality is phenomenal and it will clean up exceptionally well. The book totals about 90 pages, of which 22 two-page spreads contain prints. A number of these are in shapes that fit together, comprising an outer circle with a central image. The plan is to deconstruct the book, restore the pages, and create a box frame to showcase the entire production. A reproduction of the shaped images fitted into place will be produced separately and presented as its own image.