ERNEST DREYFUSS STILL LIFE WITH MANDOLIN FINISHED AND FRAMED

Delamination issues caused large portions of paint to lift from the canvas of this still life by Ernest Dreyfuss (1903-1977). By a process of restorer’s adhesive and weights, we were able to delicately return these areas to the canvas. New linen was added to the reverse to provide a stronger foundation, which is going to help the delamination issue. The original varnish was old and it had yellowed. With it removed the natural and more vibrant colors reappeared, and a new layer of conservation varnish was applied.

A custom American Modernist Reverse frame was made with Spanish origins and gilded with silver.

Ernst Emmanuel Dreyfuss was born in Frankfurt, Germany on January 1, 1903. He trained as a painter and became a disciple of Max Beckmann and Ugi Battenberg. Dreyfuss survived Buchenwald and fled from Nazi Germany in 1940, spending a year in England, and then immigrating to the US in 1941. He settled in Hyde Park, Chicago, IL, where, as an eccentric neighborhood painter, he allegedly served as the inspiration for a character in one of Saul Bellow’s Chicago Stories. Dreyfuss ceased painting in 1971. He married and subsequently divorced Ms. Anne Battaglia, and was survived by one cousin, which at the time of his death in 1977 resided in South Africa.

TC Steele Landscape Restoration

Due to paint stability issues, this TC Steele (1847 – 1926) was re-lined with wax. This caused a number of problems on its own that were detailed in our initial assessment.

With the painting de-fit we were able to undertake the arduous journey of removing the wax re-line with gentle heat and a sharp scalpel. On the front, the surface was carefully cleaned, with the old varnish removed along with the dirt contaminates and the black dots. With the amount of heat used in the wax-reline process, some of the paint was flattened which compromised the rich texture–one of the strong points of this painting. We reconstituted these areas, matching the original brushstrokes, and then injected adhesive to consolidate the cupping areas. Heat and pressure allowed them to lay flat and consistent with the rest of the paint film. Old in-painting was removed and new in-painting was performed to correct these areas, the areas with craquelures and cupping, and the areas with loss once they were in-filled. Conservation varnish finished the restoration.

The new frame is a custom American Impressionist 424 styled frame with hand-carved panel, rounded corners and herringbone detail along the corners and outer railings. It was gilded with 22 karat gold. We hope to have all the finishing touches done for Thursday, so check back for finishing shots…

Theodore Clement Steele is considered to be one of the finest of the American Impressionist painters to work in the Midwest. A leading member of the Hoosier School painters, Steele was a native in Indiana who studied at the Indiana School of Art, as well as the Royal Academy in Munich. Upon returning to the U.S., Steele co-founded the Indianapolis School of Art with William Forsyth. In these early years, Steele’s paintings were very much in the dark, dramatic style of the Munich School. It was only after Steele began exploring the Indiana countryside for inspiration that his palette would brighten. By 1893, Steele was showing, to critical acclaim, Impressionist landscapes at the Chicago Exposition. In 1906 Steele settled in the remote region of Brown County, Indiana, where he painted exclusively in the pure Impressionist style he’d adopted.

Antique Quilt Collection

In age, these quilts range from the Post-Revolutionary War to the Civil War to the Great Depression. There are five in total, three of which are going into custom frames. One thing these quilts have in common is that they are quite large–the largest being 105″ x 85.”

Using our large waterbath we’ll use a very safe and dilute formula to clean the stains, adding extra strength with a conservation paste that we’ll gently scrub into the problem areas. Storage in wooden chests turned out to be the culprit for acid stains. They show as a light yellow and luckily will not be as difficult to remove. Afterwards the quilts will be carefully dried and blotted with wool felt. This step will also give us the chance to help square the dimensions.

In the areas of loss, period fabrics will be used to in-fill, with an emphasis placed on salvaging as much of the original fabric as possible.

Three of the quilts will be sewn to a mount and placed behind UV-filtering OP-3 plexiglass in a shadow box frame.

The oldest quilt is the Sally Campbell Quilt, the first in the photographs. It comes from the Federal style within The Young Republic age of American history. It also happens to be the largest, and it has an interesting asymmetrical design that we are still in the process of figuring out what type of furniture it was meant for. If you look closely you’ll notice the smaller, blue stars flank two sides, but share a corner, and at a third edge it stops midway through the larger stars that are encircled with the blue background. We expect to uncover some fascinating history with these quilts. Information that we’ll surely pass on. Stay tuned for more…

ADOLF DEHN CENTRAL PARK WATERCOLOR FINISHED

Substantial staining and several drips troubled this Central Park snowscape. With the proper treatment and stain removal the discoloration disappeared. This treatment greatly improved the color dynamics, which is one of the rewarding treats we typically find when working on a snowscape. These new, softer color tones were accented with a custom Modernist Marin 258 frame.

Adolf Dehn (1895-1968) was born in Waterville, Minnesota. He began creating artwork at the age of 6. His student and early professional life began with a dedicated pursuit of black and white topics as a natural and expressive watercolorist. By 1920, after formal training as an illustrator and lithographer, he began to create ink drawings and lithographs, the sales of which supported him though the depression.

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.

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.

 

A couple of works by W.E. BAUM Finished

This pair of W.E. Baum (1884 – 1956) artworks, along with their frames, were recently restored. The first is a pastel from a place he knew well, Sellersville, Pennsylvania, and the second is an oil painting that actually depicts the view from his studio.

The pastel required a substantial amount of in-painting, as the dryness of the pastel had led to flaking. The board had introduced acid contaminates, but it was an artist’s prepared board, and that allowed us to “skin” it so we could easily de-acidify it. A new archival board was adhered, and an archival spray was used to consolidate the pastels.

The oil painting was also given a better backing, our honey-comb panel, which is very sturdy and provides excellent support. Upon investigation, we discovered an area at the bottom that had been gauged out and badly repaired, and there were also losses occurred where nails had been driven in. These areas were filled and then in-painted.

Museum glass was given to the pastel frame. It was also backed-up to allow the glass and paint surface to sit clear of each other. Before this wasn’t the case and it had actually led to some rubbing and loss of pastel. Motifs on the oil frame had areas of loss. These were remade through casts and adhered.

Lee Krasner Painting

This Lee Krasner oil painting is a wonderful representation of her Little Image collection. It is believed to have been executed in 1948 or 1949. Since then some surface contaminates have darkened the colors, and from surface hits a number of craquelures have emerged. Upon examination, it was also discovered that the original stretcher bar was too small, causing the left and right edge of the painting to be clipped. We will address the issues to the paint surface, build a new stretcher bar, and also a new custom frame in a wide modernist style. Stay tuned for more…

Born to a Russian immigrant family living in Brooklyn on October 27, 1908, Krasner decided early on to pursue a career in the arts. Enrolling at the Cooper Union in 1926, the young artist struggled to find the appropriate artistic milieu to encourage her talent. Beginning in 1928, she studied for a brief time at the Art Students League, then at National Academy of Design from 1928-1932, and subsequently at City College in 1932-33, where she obtained a teaching certificate. However, the teachings of the influential artist Hans Hoffman at his renowned school in Greenwich Village had the greatest impact on Krasner’s artistic development.

Krasner studied with Hofmann intermittently from 1937 to 1940. During these years her style changed from Surrealist-inspired paintings of the early-mid 1930s to abstract figural and still-life compositions that reveal an understanding of Cubist and Fauvist principles. Art historian Robert Hobbs singles out the artist’s charcoal nude figure studies from this period. He writes: “Of far greater importance than her still-life paintings are the life drawings that Krasner made at the Hofmann School. In these works she quickly assimilated the rudiments of Cubism as well as Hofmann’s emphasis on tensions achieved through the opposition of light and shadow, depth and flatness.”

However, Krasner did not always agree with Hofmann’s teaching methods. Robert Hobbs reports how she became angered when Hofmann tore one of her drawings into quarters to make a point about compositional tension to his students.  It was perhaps not surprising that she later shortened her name to the androgynous moniker “Lee,” perhaps in an attempt to combat institutional sexism. Remarks such as Hofmann’s awkward compliment, when he announced to the class, “This [study] is so good you would not know that it was done by a woman,” testified to the inherent biases lingering in the art world. Krasner’s move was not uncommon for female artists of her ambition; other artist’s of her generation, such as Grace (George) Hartigan and Michael (Corrinne) West, also adopted male first names.

In the 1930s, Krasner became acquainted with Harold Rosenberg, who would become one of the most influential art critics of his generation. In 1934, Krasner was appointed to the Public Works of Art Project, and the following year she and Rosenberg were assigned to Max Spivak’s mural project (for the Federal Art Project [FAP]).  Their positions—more as de-facto personal assistants than artistic collaborators on the project since Spivak preferred to work alone—allowed for ample conversations and lively debates about art, leftist politics, and intellectual developments. Rosenberg, an aspiring poet, introduced her to the work of Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud.  The French Symbolist poet Rimbaud provided a tremendous source of inspiration for the artist, particularly in his poem “A Season in Hell,” which Krasner excerpted and inscribed on the wall of her studio in 1941.

In 1940, Krasner joined the American Abstract Artists (AAA), a group dedicated to creating international abstract art whose slogan announced their aims “For Peace, for Democracy, For Cultural Progress.” Her participation in AAA exhibitions from 1940 to 1943, her outspoken attitude and involvement in protests organized by the Artists Union, and her affiliation with Hofmann’s school increased her reputation in the early 1940s. She received a public mural commission for the New York radio station WNYC (which was never executed), and also participated in several group exhibitions. These included French and American Painting, a show organized by John Graham that opened in January 1942 at McMillen Inc. design studios.

French and American Painting marked the first occasion where Krasner and Pollock exhibited their work in the same show. Indeed, after receiving the offer to participate in the exhibition, Krasner visited Pollock’s studio to introduce herself, not realizing that she had had met Pollock previously. In 1945, the couple both contributed paintings to A Problem for Critics at Howard Putzel’s Gallery 67.  They were married later that year in an intimate ceremony in The Springs, Long Island, where they had purchased a farmhouse not far from the home of Harold Rosenberg and his wife May Tabak.

In 1946, Krasner launched her Little Image series. These paintings incorporated an all-over compositional technique using variously short dabs, dense webs of dripped paint, and grids of ciphers and hieroglyphic forms. The Little Image paintings were informed by Krasner’s religious training as a child, when she learned Hebrew, and also by post-war Zionism.  More broadly, Krasner’s calligraphic paintings revealed the artist’s exploration of symbols and sign systems; she explained, “I thought of [my unconscious messages] as a kind of crazy writing of my own, sent by me to I don’t know who, which I can’t read, and I’m not so anxious to read.” It was a period of artist growth that Krasner said she was waiting for something to happen, confident that the repetition of familiar pigment and canvas would eventually make something. These works were not executed on an easel, but on the floor or a table. This marked the only time she ever worked looking down on her canvases.

In 1953, Krasner began to destroy both Pollock’s and her own work to generate small collages composed of the fragments of sliced canvases. The collages that resulted from this process of destruction and recombination displayed complex interlocking forms, realizing in both a material and visual way the tension of opposing forces encouraged by Hofmann years earlier. These works also reveal the painter’s appreciation for Matisse’s lively color. Krasner combined the principles of Hoffman and Matisse with her admiration for Cubist drawing.

Following Pollock’s death in 1956, Krasner responded with a group of works called Earth Green. The series featured monumental painterly explosions addressing themes of renewal, such as harvest, fertility, and growth. Sometimes referred to as “autobiographical,” these Abstract Expressionist figurative paintings often depict hybrid, gender-neutral personnages within carefully structured canvases that balance horizontal and vertical forces. In 1959 Krasner launched another series inspired by death. These works, referred to collectively as “Night Journeys” are part of her larger Umber series and are characterized by their limited palette of blacks, whites, ochres, and browns. Also distinctive are their mixed use of sprayed and spattered paint and the intense emotions they evoke. In 1958 Krasner also produced a large-scale mosaic for the Uris Building in New York utilizing some of the same forms as her collages.

In the mid-1970s, Krasner’s work came full circle. After rediscovering several portfolios of the charcoal Nude Study from Life drawings in 1976, she saved (and likely signed and dated) those she wished to keep, giving some as gifts to friends and colleagues. The remaining drawings she cut into abstract forms and sliced and pasted these fragments onto large canvases. Painting on top of the collage, she titled the series, Eleven Ways to Use the Words to See. These works expressed the artist’s interest in both Cubist design and Fauvist color, as well as her career-long engagement with drawing, painting, and collage.

That decade also witnessed the ascendancy of Krasner’s national reputation. Her work was exhibited in several major exhibitions that celebrated the varied aspects of her oeuvre, including Lee Krasner: Large Paintings at the Whitney Museum of American Art, organized by Marcia Tucker, and the traveling show Lee Krasner: Collages and Works on Paper, 1933-1974 initiated by the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Two other important exhibitions were Krasner/Pollock: A Working Relationship, curated by Barbara Rose, and Lee Krasner: Works on Paper at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.  After suffering from arthritis and battling various illnesses since 1962, Krasner died in 1984.

Mathias Alten Watercolor

This watercolor came in attached to a cardboard mount that was completely wood-based pulp. It had contaminated the work with acid burning causing the overall look of the piece to be a dark brown. We carefully soaked the painting and slowly removed it from the mount while wet. We then put it through a series of purified water baths to extricate as much of the acid stains as possible; this was done without any chemistry so as to protect the watercolor. We then added a couple of baths with chemistry through the reverse of the picture to remove more of the acid stains.

There were three tears in the watercolor; two of which were at the corners due to stress and the brittleness of the acid degradation, while the third tear was also near the edge and looked to have been caused by the artist. Blotters were used to flatten and dry the watercolor, and then further de-acidification solution was applied, this time a non-aqueous type. We then tissue-mounted the work to 8-ply museum board, before another round of de-acidification, this time through the face. In-painting was conducted where there had been some loss of watercolor. Stay tuned for more as we prepare a custom American Modernist 5″ wide frame with light antique gold over yellow and black clay.

Born in Gusenburg, Germany, Mathias Alten (1871–1938) is hailed as the foremost painter of Grand Rapids, Michigan and a second-generation Impressionist whose primary theme was agrarian labor. He was apprenticed to Joseph Klein, a decorative painter in Saint Wendel, Germany and worked on ceiling and wall decorations for churches and theaters.

At 17, he emigrated to Grand Rapids, Michigan, which was a major manufacturing center and vital art community. He studied with Edwin A. Turner and first exhibited his work at the Michigan State Fair in 1896.  Some of his earliest works are floral stilllife, a theme to which he continued to return; he also did figure and portrait painting, but his landscapes defined the direction of his work.

In 1898, he went to France and settled in Paris after spending time painting fishing scenes in Etaples, an artists’ colony on the French coast. He studied at the Academie Julian with Benjamin Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens and won a gold metal for the best figure drawing. Interested in animal drawing, he attended classes at the veterinary school and then traveled extensively throughout France and Italy and other parts of Europe.

Returning to Grand Rapids, he and Constant Fliermans opened a studio and art school together, and then on his own he pursued an active career as a a portrait and figure painter, and also did numerous murals. His figure paintings were unusual for that time because they were not elegant subjects but working class people straining their muscles.

From 1902, after spending time at the Old Lyme, Connecticut art colony, he became increasingly devoted to plein air rural landscape painting with sparkling sunlight and colors of Impressionism. In 1910, he traveled abroad for a year, doing many rural scenes of Holland, and in New York, he saw paintings by and was much influenced by the Spanish Impressionist Joaquin Sorolla whose work became a lasting influence in subject matter and a palette that was more colorful and sunlit than his previous work. In 1912, he traveled in Spain, and much of his work from that time reflected Spanish subjects.

To escape the harsh winters he made trips to southern California in 1929 and 1933-34. His good friend Norman Chamberlain had settled in Laguna Beach. While visiting there he was active with the local art colony and painted coastal scenes and a series of missions. He achieved success in Los Angeles due to his daughter’s promotion of his works.

He died in Michigan on March 8, 1938.

17th Century Drawing Finished

This 17th Century drawing was one of the longer jobs we’ve had, and we knew this would be the case as the amount of work would be extensive, and we would also need to make some important design decisions.

Areas of loss in the paper and smaller pinhole-sized holes were prevalent across the artwork. On the reverse some asphaltum was adhered, which is a type of tar. Stains had developed and acid contaminates had migrated into the paper.

Chemical baths lifted the stains and neutralized the acid contaminates. Another chemical was used to soften the asphaltum which was then carefully scraped with a scalpel, and then another chemical helped to treat the underlying stains. New paper pulp to fill the lost areas was made and incorporated with water that self-adhered to the rice paper quality of the original.

The new frame we made is a custom Sienese Italian with granito and raised gesso-corners with a feather motif and matching spandrel. We noticed in the cap that there’s a feather, and we brought that decoration into the corners. The granito can be seen around the feathers as the small dots.

Restoration started back in March and we are particularly satisfied with the culmination of what was months of slow progress. As the various aspects matured the anticipation kind of teased us with how they would eventually look together. But when they finally did come together we were thrilled with how the frame and spandrel appear to be the same period as the drawing, and how there’s a shared elegant quality that is still inviting in an introspective, personal sort of way.

Adolf Dehn Central Park Watercolor

Substantial staining and several drips trouble this Central Park snowscape. With the proper treatment and stain removal the discoloration will disappear. This is going to greatly improve the color dynamics, as this is predominately a black and white watercolor. The color tones will also be accentuated with a custom white gold frame done in the Modernist Marin style. Stay tuned for finished photographs…

Adolf Dehn (1895-1968) was born in Waterville, Minnesota. He began creating artwork at the age of 6. His student and early professional life began with a dedicated pursuit of black and white topics as a natural and expressive watercolorist. By 1920, after formal training as an illustrator and lithographer, he began to create ink drawings and lithographs, the sales of which supported him though the depression.

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.

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.

 

Hoerman Grand Canyon Original American Impressionist 22K Frame

We were very happy with how our original frame turned out and with how it paired with the Hoerman Grand Canyon landscape. The quality that struck us about the painting were the layers of geological progression receding into the distance and how the cloud gave commonality to both the progression and also the distance. We took this quality, and within the American Impressionist vein, simplified it in our corner design with what we’re calling “Mountains and Leaves.” We were also pleased with how the richness of the 22K gold picks up the red tones of the Grand Canyon and gives a warm, open, and inviting quality.