Jean-Francois Millet Drawing in Custom Dutch Frame.

This drawing by Jean-François Millet (1814-1875) came in with foxing on the paper, which caused brownish discoloration. There were also dirt particulates across the surface.

Select chemistry baths lifted the foxing and helped return the original color to the paper as well as halt the future spread. A custom Dutch Frame with white gold was prepared, and a rice-paper hinge was used to secure the drawing to a heavy 8-ply mat. Museum glass, besides filtering UV-light, is also know for how well it handles the glare of lights, as seen in the last photograph, provided the quintessential touch of a restoration: unnoticed. We are very pleased with how the frame compliments the drawing and pulls the viewer’s eye inward, to accentuate the dynamic line strokes of Millet.

Jean-François Millet, (born October 4, 1814, Gruchy, near Gréville, France—died January 20, 1875, Barbizon), French painter renowned for his peasant subjects.

Millet spent his youth working on the land, but by the age of 19 he was studying art in Cherbourg, France. In 1837 he arrived in Paris and eventually enrolled in the studio of Paul Delaroche, where he seems to have remained until 1839.

After the rejection of one of his entries for the Salon of 1840, Millet returned to Cherbourg, where he remained during most of 1841, painting portraits. He achieved his first success in 1844 with The Milkmaid and a large pastel, The Riding Lesson, that has a sensual character typical of a large part of his production during the 1840s.

The peasant subjects, which from the early 1850s were to be Millet’s principal concern, made their first important appearance at the Salon of 1848 with The Winnower, later destroyed by fire. In 1849, after a period of great hardship, Millet left Paris to settle in Barbizon, a small hamlet in the forest of Fontainebleau.

He continued to exhibit paintings of peasants, and, as a result, periodically faced the charge of being a socialist. Letters of the period defending Millet’s position underline the fundamentally classical nature of his approach to painting.

By the mid-1860s, Millet’s work was beginning to be in demand. Official recognition came in 1868, after nine major paintings had been shown at the exposition of 1867. Important collections of Millet’s pictures are to be found in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and in the Louvre.

Jean-François Millet

Adolph Dehn Collection Restored

We are quite proud to continue our work for the Adolf and Virginia Dehn Foundation. This recent group involved five paintings and our efforts included restoration and building new custom frames. The landscapes received Marin and Dutch Modernist frames with black and silver, and Prudent and Scarlet received a Reverse Modernist frame in metal leaf. Restoration involved removing dirt particulates and addressing the areas of the paint film where it had suffered a loss of integrity, either due to scuffs and scraps, or dryness. These paintings were done on boards and several of the corners were broken and damaged and needed repairs. 

In the early 1920’s, Dehn moved to Europe, and developed his imagery of cabaret, park scenes, burlesque, and European landscapes of the roaring 20’s. He returned to the Midwest during the depression and by 1936 he started to work in the watercolor medium. He discovered a fondness for its characteristics of finish, fluidity, and adaptability for effects that could be either deliberate or spontaneous.

It seems watercolors also agreed with Dehn’s open, effusive, and passionate character. During the 30’s and 40’s, his favorite subjects were Midwest and Northeast farmscapes. His eventual home of New York City also became a frequent subject matter as he captured the essence of the city’s burlesque, Central Park, Harlem nightclubs, industrial yards, and areas of high society. In 1951, he published a book called Water Color, Gouache and Casein Painting.

He died in New York City in May 1968, and left behind a vast body of lithographs, watercolors, drawings and prints, which are in the permanent collections of nearly 100 museums across the United States and Europe.

American Impressionist Frame for Van Wieck’s Eden

Nigel Van Wieck’s (1949-) pictures are, in spite of their realistic form of representation, an unending source of fantasy. Animating stimuli also call for us to discover formal design principles, to create narrative links, to play through different possibilities and at the same time to always to shift our perspectives “Reality is much better when it is imagined”, the artist opined on his artistic intentions. But it is only through the elimination of distance, and opening oneself to the works that this new reality is unveiled and begins its delightful play of ambiguities and multiples meanings.

Nigel Van Wieck, who was born in the United Kingdom in Bexley, Kent, and received his training at the Hornsey College of Art in London. The artist turned to the Kinetic Art, a field in which he began to experiment with light, particularly neon light. Ever evolving, Van Wieck began to study the compositional use of light in the works of the Old Masters, and to gather inspiration for his own paintings. The artist cites the Dutch painter Jan Vermeer in particular as one of his great role models.

Van Wieck has been living and working in New York, USA, since 1979. An English style in his artwork is not apparent. Instead there is a strong influence from the American Realist artists, with whom he came in contact with after moving to America. At first it was the American Realist paintings of the late 19th century that impressed Van Wieck, but the strongest impression was Edward Hopper, whose art he thought was exemplary and in whom he perceived a kindred spirit. The comparison between the oeuvre of Hopper and Van Wieck has understandably often been drawn. In fact there are numerous parallels between Hopper’s often isolated and introverted figures who are caught in an urban malaise, and the equally singular figures in Van Wieck’s work. Moreover, the artists are united in their frequent depiction of empty places, in their clear compositional structure and in a fascination with sharp light and shadow effects.

We prepared a one of a kind American Impressionistic frame with hand-carved leaf corners and lily inspired demi-centers, and 23kt gold to give a lost world, El Dorado connection with the subject matter. Van Wieck’s painting measures 50″ x 38″ and the frame has a 4″ width. Nigel Van Wieck is a longstanding customer, and it always an honor when a frame maker and an artist are able to work together and compliment one another’s styles and talents.

 

Dame a la Chandelle and American/English Colonial Frame

This portrait masterpiece from 1778 suffered from dirt particulates that had accumulated on the surface and in the layers of the older varnish. The paint film was dry and this had led to craquelures and cupping. Furthermore, the canvas was brittle and had a low thread count. Numerous instances of old restorations added to the difficulty, as well as asphaltum on both sides.

After de-fitting, the painting was carefully cleaned and then re-lined with Pecap, a see-through material that will allows the signature on the reverse to still be visible. To coax the craquelures and cupping, further hydration was administered. Once the paint film was pliable, it was easier to return to plane. Losses were then in-painted, matching new colors to the original. Conservation varnish to finish. The stretcher bar had extensive beetle damage and was treated for the invasion and for dry rot, and given a Dutchmen to strengthen the weak areas.  A lift was added to keep painting further from the wooden structure.

An American/English Colonial frame made out of oak was hand-carved and gilded, and given a baguette fit and styled with a black clay inner liner. The gilding was done in 23 karate gold.

Pointe-à-Callière Museum in Montréal, Canada has included this painting in a chapter about “Lighting” for their upcoming publication of FIRE, which is part of a five volume book involving: Air, Water, Earth, Fire, and a final installment presenting artifacts from the Province of Québec.

 

Francois Beaucourt (1740-1794; also known as Francois Malepart De Beaucort) is known as the first Canadian artist to receive European training. His father was also a painter, and was likely the first teacher of Francois, though records at the time are hard to come by. What is known is that the father, Mallepart De Grand Maison, was a soldier who was believed to have gone to New France with the colonial regular troops. At this time, New France extended from Northwest Canada down to New Orleans, spanning into the present day Midwest, and skipping the Atlantic seaboard, which was controlled by England. Mallepart married in 1737, the wedding certificate described him as a “sergeant in the troops of the company of M. de Beaujeu [Louis Liénard].” It’s believed that by 1740 he had given up the military career to become a painter: the Montreal baptismal papers for his four children describe him as a painter. The first born was Francois, and subsequently the only living child of the marriage. Mallepart died 17 years after Francois was born, and his wife remarried to Corporal Lasselin, who may or may not have relocated the family to France. However, it was in Bordeaux, in 1773, where Francois married Benoîte, the daughter of Joseph-Gaëtan Camagne, a theatre artist and decorator.

Eleven years later, Francois departed for America; unfortunately, all the artwork he created in Bordeaux has been deemed lost. The next known trace of the artist was in 1792 when he surfaced in Philadelphia and published an advertisement in the General Advertiser. The same advertisement would appear in the Montreal Gazette, but in this case he changed the description of himself from a French painter to a Canadian one. Francois would go on to create a substantial amount of religious paintings and portraits, and it’s the latter where his talent seems to have found its strongest definition: his warm colors imbuing the subjects with a life-like quality.

He died in Montreal in 1794.

Francois Beaucourt

 

Portrait of a Young Man

This Portrait of a Young Man had been previously restored, but its condition had continued to degrade, leading to a flaking paint film, some areas of loss, some areas where it had been hit, and a dry and weak canvas that had been cut to the painting size, which can be an indication of severe damage that was simply amputated.

New archival linen was adhered using a heat press. Besides improving the foundational strength, the heat and pressure had the added benefit of consolidating the paint film. In-painting concealed areas of loss and conservation varnish finished the restoration. A custom hand-carved Dutch Modernist frame was prepared to complete this artwork.

Based off the information on the reverse, and the subject matter, style, and color palette, we believe this to be the work of Henry Hannig (1883-1948).

Born in Hirschberg, Germany on February 27, 1883, Henry Hannig emigrated to America with his parents at the age of seven. He received his formal eduction from the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts under the mentorship of Lawton Parker.  To make ends meet, he worked in industrial design and illustration.

By 1908 he was a pupil in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where students followed the traditional European drawing curriculum, beginning with the copying of master engravings and drawing after plaster casts, then concentrating on the nude figure.  Students worked toward the goal of winning various academic prizes. One of Hannig’s fellow students was Louis Ritman. Hannig’s paintings reflected the mainstream American style of the early twentieth century — broadly executed impressionism.  Like so many others, he worked with a high-keyed palette and shingle-like strokes of broken color. Consequently, the same spontaneous “on-the-spot” image is found as the basis of many of Hannig’s drawings.

Unfortunately, Hannig had no wealthy patron who might have subsidized his career and he remained dependent on his various jobs as a commercial artist. Eventually he became art editor for the South Town Economist, a Chicago newspaper.  Meanwhile, he was involved with Chicago’s German community, in the Steuben Society.  He executed pen drawings that are quite within the stylistic boundaries of illustration, yet many are more powerfully rendered than a usual illustrator’s work.  Sometimes he executed Western subjects — cowboys at work and play.

Around 1939 Hannig moved to Charleston, West Virginia to work at the Union Carbide Company. He died on December 22, 1948.

Koepf Collection and Miller Fenwood Frames

We’re excited to showcase some of the Koepf paintings that been restored and housed in our custom frames. In case you’re not familiar with Werner Koepf (1909-1992), we are in the process of changing that: by working with the Koepf estate we are restoring and framing the collection and then jointly pursuing auction. The paintings included below not only exhibit the range of Koepf as an artist, but they also give us the opportunity to use our own framing prowess to marry the painterly qualities in a way that enhances both.

Naugatuck River Valley measures 36″ x 18″ and it received a Whistler 314 frame.

 

This triptych comprised of Still Life, Industry, The Catch, all received Modernist Dutch frames. Each painting is about 18″ x 30.”

 

Wellfleet (Cape Cod) received a Modernist white oak frame. The painting is 24″ x 30.”

 

Dry Docks #5 received a Marin Modernist frame. The painting is 40″ x 26.”

Werner Koepf was born in Neckarsulum, Baden-Württemberg, Germany and emigrated with his parents and brother to the United States in 1929. During the Great Depression he worked as a house painter. In 1937 his work was prominently mentioned in the New York Times’ review of The Society of Independent Artists 19th Annual Exhibition. With his talent he gained many connections in the art world: Morris Kantor, a trustee of Contemporary Arts arranged three scholarships for Koepf at the Art Students League from 1937-1939, and Daniel Catton Rich, the Director of Fine Arts at the Art Institute of Chicago paved the way for his inclusion in the Institute’s 52nd Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture in 1941.

Koepf served in the US Army during World War II. Starting as a translator, between 1942-1945, he was then transferred to the European Theater where he served with the 496th Heavy Automotive Ordnance Company. In November 1945, he returned to the United States and settled in Derby, Connecticut.

In 1952 he was accepted into Yale University where he was awarded the prize for outstanding achievement in the School of Fine Arts for 1952-1953 by Josef Albers. Maintaining his European contacts, Koepf showed numerous paintings, including one man shows in Paris, Stockholm, and Bremen.

Werner Koepf died at his home in March of 1992.

Handmade Museum Quality Frames and Frame Restoration

We wanted to highlight the range of frame options we are able to provide.

Here’s a recent Otto Palding (1887-1964) winterscape that we made a custom frame for. It’s a Modernist American Step with primitive qualities that make is similar to a Hicks Frame and that we think make it aesthetically match with the subject matter. We used black and yellow clays, and finished it with white gold. The painting measures 34″ x 20.”

 

This antique frame had extensive degradation to the ornamentation caused by dehydration and buckling. Molds were made from composition and then casts were used to reintroduce the lost ornamentation. New gesso, clay, and gilding married the new portions to the old. Micro vacuuming removed surface contaminates.

 

Custom 22K Duch Modernist frame prepared for a long-time client and local artist, Dawn Stafford. Basswood is cut to dimensions in our woodshed with a custom blade and then mitered and joined. Sanding prepares the surface for gesso, and then clays and a touching of steel wool finalize it before it comes to the studio. Gilding gives the frame a decadence and interplays with the tonal aspects of the subject matter. Basswood is one of our preferred wood types as it is usually devoid of resin and thus favorable for gilding.

ALBRECHT DURER WOODCUT OF SAMSON RENDING THE LION FINISHED

Part 1

After water baths and a treatment in the heat press, this woodcut by Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) was dried with blotters, a lengthy process that took several months. This allowed the paper to carefully stretch back to its original size, a critical step for repairing the middle section where the tear had occurred and left incongruous edges. But, once the paper was back to size, these edges had good alignment, and this helped create a seamless rejoining.

Where paper losses had occurred, new paper was added with similar qualities. In-painting concealed the areas of loss.

A new Austrian/German frame in dark mahogany was prepared, and the print covered with museum glass, a premium type of glass that is exception with delicate images as well as causing minimal to no glare.

To authenticate the print, we compared known Durer woodcuts at the Snite Museum of Art at Notre Dame as well as the Grand Rapids Art Museum. We found the watermarks to corroborate with ours, and thus, verified it as an authentic Durer woodcut that was made during his lifetime.

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.

Willam Aiken Walker Copper Plates in Custom Frames

Final steps to this project (Part1, Part2). A pair of new frames were made in a medley style, combining the strong border of the Louis XVI with the simple slope of the Low American Cove style. Picking up on the Americana of the South, the demi-centers received a basketweave design and the corners were accented with a sgraffito of cotton flowers with leafs. Treating all equal, man and woman alike, the two frames are identical, but with their own original charm that comes with anything done by hand. On the reverse, the copper plates came with their own harness system, and we incorporated it, securing it to the mount with wires in three places.

We’re a bit sad to see them leave, but are thrilled with how they turned out.

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.

Gabor Peterdi, The Burning Bush

This painting, The Burning Bush, by Gabor Peterdi (1915-2001) came in with dirt particulates on the surface and an old varnish that was discoloring. Careful cleaning and vacuuming removed the surface contaminates and the varnish. This allowed the colors to pop, and make this abstract work even more dynamic. A new frame was prepared by us, a Dutch Modernist with white gold.

Gabor Peterdi was born in Budapest in 1915 and he died an American citizen in Connecticut in 2001. His studies began at the Hungarian Academy. In 1930, he won the Prix de Rome for painting. He continued his studies in Paris at Academia delle Belle Arti, Academie Julian, and the Academie Scandinavien. In 1939, with the threat of yet another war, Peterdi decided to move to The United States. In New York he received a one-man exhibition of paintings at the Julien Levy Gallery. Peterdi taught at the Brooklyn Museum in 1948, organizing the graphic arts workshop there. He was also a professor of art at Hunter College in 1949, and a Professor Emeritus of Yale University in the 1960s. Peterdi’s book Printmaking Methods Old and New was published in 1959. It continues to be the standard technical reference for both printmaking students and professionals. Peterdi was a great innovator of printmaking techniques. His devised elaborate ways of color printing by collaging copper plates. Over his lifetime he was accorded over 40 prizes, grants, and other honors. His work is included in the Permanent Collections of over 150 institutions around the world.