Dredge on Barge Painting by Unknown Artist

This oil painting came in with a heavy amount of surface contaminates, a mold invasion, and craquelures. Craquelures are the fissure-looking lines that appear due to the layers of the painting, including the canvas, drying at different times, and then rubbing against each other.

After the painting was de-fit, we noticed how brittle the canvas was, and how the stretcher bar had claimed a section of its perimeter. New Belgian linen was archivally adhered to the reverse using a heat press. This greatly increased the foundational strength, which is one of the major causes for the craquelures; the heat press had the added benefit of helping to lay the craquelures flat.

Cleaning progressed until the whole paint surface had been completed. This turned out to be one of those cases that, when you think you’re done cleaning, you find out that there are even more layers. We switched to a secondary cleaning method that, chemically, has certain advantages, and the results were rather impressive in that it seemed like we removed as much dirt on the second cleaning as the first. There even emerged another person, as the derrick operator was rather hard to see before any of the cleaning.

In-filling was used on the areas of loss, which are common when consolidating craquelures. In-painting matched colors to the original. It was decided by the client to not salvage the signature, which had been largely compromised as it was on the extreme bottom-right corner, where it had tucked around the stretcher bar and sat and rubbed against the frame. This painting has lovely qualities, though, and now that it’s clean the intricacies of the brushstrokes and the dynamic play of the colors have brought the painting back to a state that it would now be about ready for the painter to sign it. A frame is forthcoming, but it’s important not to commit to a frame style and color until the painting has been cleaned and the true colors revealed. Stay tuned for more…

Before and After.

William Hogarth Intaglios

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 is of poor quality. Also, being quite old, these intaglios have accumulated a fair amount of dirt particulates. Main restoration efforts will entail de-acidification, critical for the health of any work on paper, and then reversing the old paper in-fill with new paper that matches the original. The are some oil stains that we’ll negate with select chemistries. The intaglio in the worst condition has suffered some losses of the ink, but we’ll be able to touch that up. All works will be carefully cleaned. Stay tuned for more…

William Hogarth FRSA (Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts) was an English painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic, and editorial cartoonist. Works by him ranged from realistic portraiture, to comic strip-like series of pictures called “modern moral subjects,” with the best known being his moral series: A Harlot’s Progress, A Rake’s Progress and Marriage A-la-Mode. His influence is so great that satirical political illustrations in this style are often referred to as “Hogarthian.”

He was born in Bartholomew Close, near Smithfield Market, London, on 19 November 1697, the eldest surviving of the nine children of Richard Hogarth and Anne Gibbons. His father opened a coffeehouse when William was five, but it failed and his father was confined for debt. Hogarth lived with his family, from 1708 to 1712, within the jurisdiction of the Fleet prison, an experience he never forgot. Unable to aspire to anything higher, he was apprenticed in 1713 or 1714 to Ellis Gamble, a silver engraver. In 1720 he set up on his own as a print engraver, operating from home, and was an original subscriber to the academy of St. Martin’s Lane founded by Louis Chéron and John Vanderbank.

Hogarth published his first satirical print in 1721, and his first major series in 1726. He began painting in about 1726 and achieved a rapid success, executing small genre and comic scenes, several versions of an episode from The Beggar’s Opera, and conversation pieces, some with interior and others with outdoor settings. In 1729 he eloped with Jane Thornhill, the daughter of the eminent history painter Sir James Thornhill. The couple, forgiven, were allowed to move into Thornhill’s house in the Great Piazza, Covent Garden, in 1731, but two years later they moved to Golden Head, Leicester Fields, where Hogarth remained for the rest of his life.

In 1730 Hogarth painted his first series of “modern moral Subject[s],” launching a subscription for engravings the following year; he was characteristically original in dispensing with both engraver and printseller, performing these functions himself. As a result of piracies of his engravings Hogarth instigated an Engraver’s Copyright Act, delaying the publication of his second great moral series, A Rake’s Progress, until the act became law in 1735. By this time, however, the Rake had already been pirated. Also in 1735 he founded the better known St. Martin’s Lane Academy, where by all accounts he was an inspiring teacher; the academy quickly became the focus of avant-garde rococo art in Britain.

To forestall the commission’s going to a foreigner, Giacomo Amiconi, Hogarth offered to paint without payment two large murals over the staircase of Saint Bartholomew’s Hospital; he completed these in 1737. Enraged at the success of Jean-Baptiste Van Loo, another foreigner who had established himself in London in 1737, Hogarth turned to portraiture, and in 1740 presented his deliberately informal full-length of Captain Coram to the Foundling Hospital, of which he was a founding governor. With the idea of creating a permanent exhibition where fashionable patrons could admire the best in contemporary British painting, he coordinated the donation by artists of paintings that would hang in the Foundling Hospital offices; the newly decorated Court Room was unveiled in 1747. He also promoted the pictorial decoration at Vauxhall Gardens, the most popular of London’s many pleasure gardens, which was owned by a friend of his.

In 1743 Hogarth traveled to Paris to hire engravers for Marriage à la Mode, published in 1745. The twelve plates of Industry and Idleness, cheap engravings intended for a wide public, for which no paintings were produced, followed in 1747. The artist made a second trip to Paris in 1748 and was expelled from Calais, having been accused of spying. The following year he bought a country house in Chiswick (now a Hogarth museum). He remained active during the 1750s, and in 1757 was appointed Serjeant Painter to the King. He resented Sir Richard Grosvenor’s refusal to purchase Sigismunda, which in effect he had commissioned, and became increasingly embittered, a prey to persecution mania. He was ill for a whole year between 1760 and 1761. Although he contributed seven pictures to the Society of Artists exhibition in 1761, his health was in decline, and he died in Leicester Fields on 25 October 1764.

Manfred Henninger German Town Landscape

This landscape by Manfred Henninger (1894 – 1986) had previously been re-lined with wax, which is a technique that is seldom needed these days, and this instance of it had failed. On the front there were some cracks in the paint film, which were due to excessive drying.

It was a slow, and noisy, process to remove the old wax reline; but, careful scalpel work eventually got rid of it. New Belgian linen was added with a restorer’s adhesive. This fortified the foundation, which is going to greatly help the underlying issue as to why the cracks in the paint film appeared in the first place. Consolidation brought the cracked areas back to plane. Small, hairline losses were then in-filled and in-painted. There were a number of losses around the perimeter, which were the result of tacks that had been placed, we believe, to help hold the canvas for the wax re-line. This effectively shrunk the size of the painting, but with our new linen, providing a wider hold for the stretcher bar, we were able to undo this.

Born in Backnang, Germany, Henninger studied at the Stuttgart Academy of Fine Arts where Christian Landenberger, a notable landscape artist, was then a professor. With the outbreak of WWI, Henninger volunteered, but he never would never have the taste for war, and thereafter he considered himself a pacifist. In 1929 he co-founded the Stuttgart New Session, which abolished the jury system that had traditionally decided which works would be shown at exhibitions. For political reasons, Henninger emigrated to Switzerland, and then to Ibiza, an island in the Mediterranean which is said to have inspired a flurry of work, some 300 paintings. But war broke out in nearby Spain, and Henninger moved to Ticino, an italian-speaking region of southern Switzerland. Henninger went on to write essays for “Leaves for Art” in which he critiqued French Impressionism. In 1949 he was appointed to the State Academy of of Fine Arts in Stuttgart, where he led the classes for landscapes and portraits, teaching until 1961. His notable students included: Peter Kalkhof, Günther C. Kirchberger, Roland Ladwig and Friedrich Sieber. By the end of his life, Henninger had received many honors: in 1962, he became an honorary member of the Stuttgarter Kunstakademie; in 1975, he received the merit medal of the state of Baden-Württemberg; in 1979, he was given the Bürgermedaille of the city of Stuttgart and the Great Federal Service Cross; and in 1985, he was awarded the Hans Thoma Prize. He died, in Stuttgart, in 1986.

William Aiken Walker Copper Plates

Beneath the years of dirt, and achieved with the fine brushstrokes of Walker (1839-1921), there was a remarkable amount of detail on these oil copper plates. Copper has always been a great preserver of oil paint, and we’re glad to say that was proven once again in this case. Cleaning was achieved through a gel system, due to the corrosive tendencies that normal cleaning solvents would have on copper. Custom frames will be prepared in the Louis XVI style embellished with basketweave demi-centers and sgraffito displayed in each corner as cotton flowers with leafs. The frames will be gilded and shadow box created to allow ample room for the copper plates to fit safely inside.

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.

WA Knip Painting

Finally got to do some work outside…

The paper face method was used to lay down the cracking of the dry paint film while allowing the restorer adhesive, applied from the reverse, to seep all the way to the front. This creates a very tight and thorough bond of protection. Our wonderful, and recently fixed, heat press helped with warm temps at a strong atmospheric pressure to further consolidate the paint film.

Willem Alexander Knip was born in Amsterdam 1883. He studied at the artscool in Amsterdam and had painting lessons in Haarlem from J.J.C. Lebeau. He lived in Amsterdam and the surrounding areas, but also regularly worked in France, Italy, and Spain. He was known for his landscapes, harbor- and town-views. He won the St. Lucasperize in 1942 and the Artist-medaille in 1953. His works are the possession of the Rijkscollectie, Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven and the Singer Museum in Laren. He died in Blaricum in 1967.

Barbie Palooza

1960s era Barbie Dream House, new and original, University, and School Bus that unfolds into a classroom, with a slew of loose furniture have occupied our work tables recently. There is enough square footage in the collection to start a small community, or maybe to add to a young girl’s dream, or perhaps for an older one to reminisce about the good old days. The condition of the pieces vary but are overall, considering the age of them, in rather good shape. Our principal effort is to clean and improve the surface of these rather intricate pieces of nostalgia.

Christine Sullivan Show – The Geography of Land and Sea

Please stop by in September to see this wonderful show.

If you’re in Indianapolis, you can checkout Sullivan’s upcoming show:

Harrison Center Speck Gallery


New & Select Landscapes by Christine Sullivan

Runs through September 27th
1505 North Deleware Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202

Three Muses

This a very large painting, 84 3/4″ x 72,” and there were approximately 28 areas where the paint film and gesso layer have cracked and fallen away. This was likely due to it being folded for storage. There are areas where the varnish dripped and they show as more of a golden color. And on the lower right quadrant there are some instances of bat guano.

The painting has been carefully cleaned, and the 28 areas have been repaired and finished with in-painting to conceal them. The drips of varnish were removed and a new conservation varnish was applied. This varnish also has the benefit of not changing color with age. A new stretcher bar was made.

A new frame will be made in the style of Pre-Raphealite, 5 1/4,” with regular gold. A mock-up of the frame was been included as the last picture.

The title, 3 Muses, is our own title as neither it nor the name of the artist is known. However, the work has strong ties with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Their artistic aim was a striving for deep religious feeling and naive, unadorned directness of 15th-century Florentine and Sienese painting. They used sharp and brilliant lighting, a clear atmosphere, and a near-photographic reproduction of minute details. Private poetic symbolism, biblical subjects and medieval literary themes were frequently portrayed.

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood lasted short of five years, yet its influence on painting in Britain, and ultimately on the decorative arts and interior design, was very profound.

Upon completion a large moving truck will be rented and the artwork transported back to the client. If you have any information about the artist’s identity, we would love to hear from you. Stay tuned for more…

Charles Dwyer Portrait of Girl with Custom Frame

This pastel and watercolor came in troubled by a few acid stains and loose pastel. A seal was applied to keep the pastel from moving, and chemistry baths neutralized the stains. Further protection was given by an archival mount and by incorporating oversized conservation glass. The frame is a custom Modernist Dutch with 12 karat white gold.

Born in West Bend, WI, in 1961, Charles Dwyer discovered his artistic leanings at West Bend East High School. Later he received a scholarship from the West Bend Art Museum and then went on to major in Fine Art at the Milwaukee School of Art and Design. He graduated as Valedictorian.

Directly after college, his work was featured in a one-man exhibition. With money saved from the show, he backpacked with friends through Italy, Austria, Germany and Greece. Dwyer recalls being most impacted in Vienna where the Austrian artists and the moodiness brought on by frequent rain moved him. To this day, the overwhelming beauty of Europe remains an underlying inspiration.

After his European sojourn, Dwyer pursued painting, conservation and restoration work in the Wisconsin. “This job was pretty influential in introducing me to all sorts of imagery and media like the spiritual, astrological, and classical.” explains Dwyer. “I did a lot of mural restoration, trompe l’oeil, marbleizing, and mosaic. This was one of the few jobs you could get and really apply your artwork skills to.”

Commissioned to create the official poster for Chicago’s ARTEXPO ’93, Dwyer has continued to experiment and push the borders of art making, most recently reinterpreting the techniques of printmaking and photography. His spectacular, original works on paper and canvas, which incorporate such diverse techniques as oil paint, pastel, collage, and fabrics, make Dwyer one of the most important living American artists of our time.

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.