Here’s an in-depth look at two of our custom frames designed fo Dutch oil paintings. Both are done in the veneer frame style, but as you’ll see, with quite different results.
The first is a Dutch Veneer with Burl panels and carved ripple ornamentation in ebony over red. The artwork is an oil on canvas by Atonie (Anton) Smeerdijk (1885 – 1965).
Carved ripples for framing has quite the background. Japanese tea in the 17th century was shipped in wooden boxes that they carved waves into since it was going over the water. The Dutch reused these boxes to make frames, and this carving motif caught on, and by the 18th century they had invented machines to replicate it. Our approach to it was through the more traditional, hands-on method.
Measuring strips of veneer.
Our wonderful Jacques Shear.
Thermal glue given heat treatment to adhere veneer.
Slow, careful carving of ripples.
A number of stains to get the color we’re going for.
The second is a Dutch High Front with honey-colored Veneer. The artwork is an oil on canvas by Willem Alexander Knip (1883 – 1967).
These four post-impressionistic paintings by French artist, Jules René Hervé (1987-1981), came in with a similar condition, of which the most widespread problem is an odd and somewhat inappropriate varnish, that is not ideal for oil paints, and we suspect was applied by a gallery. The painting in the worst condition is the indoor scene with the red chair and the two embracing figures. The paint film contains structural issues, and we believe that it is likely the oldest of the quartet. And the street scene, which is the largest, wins the prize for being the dirtiest. The plan is to remove the varnish, carefully clean, address any unique issues of the paintings, then apply conservation varnish, before then archivally fitting them into new custom frames that we will have made in the interim. Frame styles are still being discussed with the client–it’s usually a wise decision to wait before committing until after the paintings have been cleaned, as the colors can change their tone. Stay tuned for more…
Jules René Hervé was an Academic French painter, born in 1887. His was born in Langres, a town in the eastern part of France, where he began his art studies in an evening school. Known for his paintings of cityscapes and landscapes, Hervé painted in an impressionistic style that captured the shimmering texture of the city and the softer light of the countryside. When asked, the artist mentions that as far as he can remember, he always wanted to become an artist of talent to being able to express through color the beauty of everything he would see.
Hervé arrived in Paris in 1908 and first continued his studies at the School of Decorative Arts, and then at the Fine Art School. Having his first-time exhibition at the Salon des Artistes français in 1910, where he became a very important member. Hervé was also trained at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Arts Decoratifs of Paris and studied with Fernand Cormon (French 1845–1924) and Jules Adler (French, 1865-1952). From 1911 to 1943, he taught painting with many generations of artists. Hervé was awarded multiple honors during his lifetime, he received a silver medal in 1914 from the Association of French Artists, including a gold medal by the association of the French artists in 1925 and a gold medal for the World Fair of 1937.
Hervé is both a painter of daily countryside themes in which we find the characters performing the daily tasks and a painter of Parisian scenes. His artistic interpretation is filled with sensibility by the use of delightful strokes of light and color. The Paris seen through Hervé’s eyes is a city of poetry, showing its most charming aspects, where the viewer becomes a part of the “City of Lights”, with its sentimental life and feelings of that special atmosphere and all of her charm.
Indifferent to the current fashions of his time, and outside any trends, he never ceased to deepen the technical secrets of his art, and after more than 50 years of artistic experience, he achieved a complete mastery of his own style. No only Jules René Hervé is a painter of great talent, but he represents the purest tradition of French art. His works can be compared to the great impressionists of former times, playing with his palette as a musician does with a musical instrument, resulting for each of his works a marvelous symphony of color and light.
His paintings are in numerous museum collections in France and abroad, like in the Pads, Langares, Saint-Etienne, Annecy, and Tourcoing France; and also in institutions like the Chicago Art Institute, Musée d’art et d’histoire de Langres, Musée du Petit Palais in Paris, Casablanca Marocco, Dijon, Tourcoing, Musée des beaux-arts de Tourcoing, Musée des beaux-arts de Saint-Étienne, Musée des beaux-arts d’Annecy and the Dahesh Museum in New York City. Hervé died in 1981.
Porte St Denis by Édouard Cortès (1882 – 1969) suffered from scuffs and surface contaminates. The scuffs had resulted in paint loss and were visible when the back of the canvas was held up to light. They appeared as little pin pricks.
The painting was de-fit and cleaned. Consolidation and in-fill handled the areas where there were scuffs, and in-painting concealed these areas. A final application of conservation varnish will preserve the artwork for years to come.
We prepared a new handmade and custom Louis XV frame with 23K gold.
Before and After
Edouard Cortes was born into a family of artists and artisans in Paris, 1882. His grandfather, Andre Cortes, was famous for his work on the stained glass windows of the Cathedral of Seville and his father, Antonio Cortes, was a painter at the royal court of Spain. In this artistically conducive atmosphere, Edouard showed exceptional talent early and decided at a young age that he was destined to be a painter. He once stated, “I was born from and for painting.”
In his youth, Cortes trained at his father’s studio and was also given advice and encouragement from his brother (also a painter) and other local artists. Surprisingly, before undergoing his formal education at the National French Art School in Paris, a sixteen-year old Cortes first exhibited his work at the national exhibition of the Societe des Artistes Francais in Paris, 1899. His large painting, Le Labour, was a great success and the French press lauded the young phenomenon of the French art scene.
Edouard eventually became a member of the French Artists’ Society, exhibiting his works every year as his reputation began to grow. In 1901 Cortes began his long tradition of painting different vignettes of Paris. He also painted familial interiors, landscapes, and seascapes but achieved his greatest fame through these masterly and expressive Parisian scenes. In 1915, he was awarded the Silver Medal at the Salon des Artistes Francais and the Gold Medal at the Salon des Independents. He also received numerous awards at the Salon d’Hiver during his artistic career.
Cortès’ beautiful depictions of Paris were always in demand and he continued to paint them until his death in 1969.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.