Romanian Interior Painting Finished and Framed

Finishing touches were made to this interior scene from Romania believed to have been done around 1910. Flood damage had caused widespread ailments.

New linen was adhered with an extra layer of Pecap to provide foundational strength. Widespread craquelures were addressed with in-painting, and the old varnish that had yellowed was removed. Careful cleaning was carried out across the entire surface. Some before and after photographs show exactly how transformative the results were and give an idea to what restoration is capable of.

In conjunction with our suite mates, The Nines Framing Studio, a new frame was given to the artwork with European styling, highlighted by an egg and dart motif on the inner rail, and a vine motif on the outer rail.

Victorian Landscape

This oil painting by an unknown artist is a strong example of a Victorian landscape. A thatched roof with plenty of character and too unruly for straight lines. A modest mother and child, off-center and not interested in being the focus of attention. The unhitched wagon, the open front door, the sense of daily activities ongoing, and the closeness of the house, clipped by the left and right margin, gives an intimate yet homely perspective.

The work is old, dating back to pre-1900s, and the artist used a prepared board with gesso, which unfortunately cracked with water damage and in some places broke away. The first step was to stabilize and clean the board, and then in-fill where part of gesso had been lost. Topical repairs were then carried out with in-painting and consolidation of the surface. Restoration concluded with a custom Dutch frame with a high front and dark panel.

Pictures in Pictures

A fundamental principle of landscape painting is scene composition. Over the course of several months, while we have tackled the Olendorf (1924-1996) collection, there is a trait of his work that we have been enamored by. Pictures in pictures might be the best way to describe it. We wanted to offer a case study.

In this picture you’ll notice dynamic contrast. This is achieved through the opposing colors of the principle elements: the two cars, the white building, the brown horse, the flecks of brown and yellow flowers on the second floor balcony. This a rich and dynamic scene.

Scanning to the other side of the landscape you’ll see the same red car, but now there’s a pink car tucked behind a pair of trees. With only one person in this picture it’s as if the time of day has completely changed, and things are much quieter and much slower.

Pull back a little to this picture and you’ll see the building in full view, along with the people, and a touch of blue sky. But the focal point, where the color has the most emphasis, becomes the red car. From it there is a strong vertical line going straight up to the flag, the apex of the roof, and the blue sky. A height is given to man, his achievements, and his direction. And it is balanced by the natural growth of the trees framing the left third. The theme of man versus nature is at its strongest in this picture.

Now pull back to the full image and suddenly the dirt foreground and the presence of the horse completely change the dynamics. From a forrest, man has etched out a little trade store, and this transition period is still underscored by the different transportation modes: the cars and the horse. The emphasis of the red car drops a bit with the inclusion of the horse, and what you’re left with is something that is not yet defined, something in flux and change. You have an oasis. A little reprieve. Something off the beaten path. Something unique. Something with the charm of Olendorf.

Olendorf Zoagli Cinque Terre

Lush color and tall architecture are hallmarks of the Olendorf style (1924-1996) that here take the form of Zoagli, a commune in the province of Genoa. Known for tourism, Zoagli is near the Cinque Terre region which translates to “Five Lands” and offers small yet dramatic coastal towns, a year-round pleasing climate, and beautiful landscapes, traits that led to its inclusion in the Unesco World Heritage list. Not until the 19th century, when rail and roads connected Zoagli, did it bloom into a tourist spot, first attracting the Swiss and English. Unfortunately it was the site of WWII bombing raids that destroyed the center of the town but was then rebuilt and named “XXVII December” in honor of the first raid. Further back in its history, it was infamously pillaged by Saracen pirates led by the famed Dragut, who one French admiral described as “a living chart of the Mediterranean.” In response, Zoagli constructed a pair of towers to bolster its defenses. They continue to stand and were recently restored. One belongs to the Genoese Patrician Villas, and the other belongs to City Hall which can be used to hold marriage ceremonies.

Sir George Solti conducts the Chicago Symphony in Vienna

This serigraph by Franklin McMahon (1921 – 2012) is entitled “Sir George Solti conducts the Chicago Symphony in Vienna.” Harsh mold damage had obscured many of the faces in the crowd which restoration brought back to clarity. The finished work is housed in a custom Italian frame. A couple of the finer points we enjoy about this print is 1) how its art about art, which is kind of like a bilingual ability, and 2) how it represents a gathering of people enjoying and sharing the gifts of art, which is kind of like the adoration of an unspoken language, and something we find worth preserving.

Dutch lowlands, landscapes, and Rembrandt

Rembrandt’s (1606 – 1669) etching of the Little Stink Mill portrays an actual windmill that was located in west Amsterdam on the De Passeerde bulwark. The mill was owned by the Leathermakers Guild and it’s where they would soften leather with cod liver oil, a smelly process which lead to the “Little Stink Mill” name. Because of the detail of the print, it’s believed that Rembrandt started the work on site, but then finished it in his studio. Unfortunately for this print, surface dirt, a watercolor drip, and acid stains called foxing were causing integrity issues. With targeted baths we lifted the foxing and simultaneously administered a specific solvent to treat the watercolor drip. Restoration was completed by carefully cleaning the surface.



Tour Boat on the Seine by Tomlice

This wonderful painting by R. Tomlice from 1963 suffered from paint loss and a varnish that had streaked in areas which was the result of flood damage. Through restoration we carefully removed the varnish as well as deacidified it to mitigate a mold invasion. A custom Italian Florentine frame in gold was built and the artwork was then archivally placed inside it. We are very happy with the frame style and color, and how well it compliments the painting.

The Seine stretches 483 miles and connects the Paris basin to Le Havre, a major port in the Normandy region. “Seine” comes from Sequana, who was the Gallo-Roman goddess of the river. Due to the Seine’s central location within Paris, tour boats are able to pass along the Left Bank, Right Bank, Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, Louvre Museum, Orsay Museum, and Les Invalides, the burial site for Napoleon, as well as other attractions.

A Modern Take on the Cassetta Frame

With the Renaissance causing an emergence of secular art subjects, there was a need for a new frame style, one that was different from the religious, Tabernacle style. The specific need was to diverge from the elaborate and imposing style of religious frames, which mimicked, on the small scale, Gothic architecture, and head toward a style that was more organized and refined. Cassetta translates to “little box,” and its meaning is reflected in the frame’s appearance: four straight sides with an entablature formate. The other fundamental shift was the change in how the frame related to the work. The Tabernacle frame had sought to be an extension of the artwork while the Cassetta frame tried to emphasize the artwork.

Due to its simplistic nature, the Cassetta frame is very versatile, and one that were were able to modernize in a symbiotic way to three distinct oil paintings by Bill Olendorf (1924-1996). Each custom frame received gilding, and also, to match the frame to the artwork, the panel was painted with the same temperature of color included in the artwork. These works were also plagued by a substantial invasion of mold, and required quite a bit of cleaning.


This colorful lithograph, L’Espoir du Volubius, by Alexander Calder (1989 – 1976) suffered from staining, fungal invasions, and creases that were dangerously close to becoming tears. Water baths and a chemical bath allowed us to treat the stains, fungus, and the problematic spots that were on the reverse. They also left the paper wet and swollen. With a burnisher we were then able to softly nudge the paper fibers, where the creases had formed, backed into a flat and uniform surface.

Alexander Calder (1898 – 1976) was best known for his kinetic abstract mobiles. He also did floor pieces, was a painter in watercolor, oil and gouache, did etchings and serigraphs, and made jewelry and tapestries as well designed theater stage settings and architectural interiors. His art reflects his reputation of being an amicable person who continually searched for fun and humor in his surroundings. Highly independent, he kept his distance from luxuries, and instead strove to be rich in creativity. His last words, “I’ll do it myself,” seem to sum up his valiant approach toward life. And yet, in the art world his reception has wavered through the years, as staunch critics have not always found serious value in his bright and playful color choices. One could say Calder’s fault was that he was a forerunner for new artistic styles like pop art, sound, multimedia art, and installations, and that he was not part of the slack-water where it’s easier to make judgements as the artistic landscapes are less fluid. But with the acceptance of these art styles, the Calder stock has since risen. Of course, the artwork remains the same. Britannica writer, Lynne Warren, captures his return to prominence, and also add great praise, with her concluding comment: “the reevaluations by 21st-century artists and art historians place his achievements in the highest echelons of art.”

Olendorf: Trois Sketches

Restoration is complete on a few of the Olendorf (1924-1996) sketches. We wanted to share how superb, masterly, and how fascinated we are with them. The first is of Saint-Tropez, a French Riviera location known to be popular with artists and tourists. Here Olendorf has captured a flat, confrontational scene where the apartment buildings stunt the view. Its his pen strokes, all the intricate roof-lines and shutter-lines, done quickly but with such ease that he’s able to add intricate detail without overloading the top-half of the picture. Overall, the lines sort of “arrest” the viewer and in-prison them within the scene, which we believe to be one of the mimetic qualities that Olendorf was going for.

The next two sketches are of Parisian streets, and are wonders at depth perception, lively detail, and showing Olendorf’s command of the monumental Beaux-Arts architecture. Again, his spontaneous pen strokes made it possible for him to add a great amount of detail without overbearing the eye, what would have happened if he had used a ruler. And the people and cars, the snapshot of Parisian life that he’s able to capture in a sketch. Vive la France!

We always come away impressed after looking at these sketches, and are very glad that by treating for mold and transferences, we were able to help clean and preserve these works which will hopefully last as long as the locations they depict.