With the extensive tear sutured and the paint surface carefully cleaned, restoration efforts turned toward the frame. It is in the Victorian style, and is period to the painting, about the 1870s to 1910s, and is a wonderful frame but was in rough shape. Dirt accumulation and missing ornamentation had impaired its appearance. Molds were created to replicate the lost areas of the frame, and composition shaped to match them. These were then slotted into place with fine cutting and sanding. Gesso, clays, and then gilding matched it with the rest of the frame.
We are very pleased with how the painting and frame restoration came out, and then once again when we fitted the painting back into the frame and saw how the gilding, burnished in the sunlight, accents the color temperaments found in the painting. They are truly a great match.
The artist, Cornelius Van Duren (1915 – 2013), spent part of his life in Holland, Michigan and was a decorated war veteran, serving 30 years in the army in WWII, Korean War and Vietnam. He received the combat infantry badge, bronze star media with valor, among other awards. In 1965 he moved to Long Beach, California where he lived until passing away at the age of 98.
The painting is a depiction of Lily and the Lion by the Grimm Brothers.
Composition to remake frame ornamentation.
A few of the older frames we have at our studios are in need of replaced ornamentation. It’s an involved process to replicate what is 150-year-old frame-working. We use an in-house formula for our composition, made from six ingredients. A mold is created and the composition formed from it, and then fitted into place with cutting and sanding. Then gesso, clays, and gilding are added to match it with the rest of the frame in what will ultimately be a black glaze over gilding. The great aspect of composition is how well it can be shaped in a refined manner, which makes it ideal for decorative ornamentation. Stay tuned for photographs of the finished frames . . .
This Edgar A. Rupprecht (1889-1954) landscape was done on a very lightweight linen that, over time, has caused some issues. Dehydration to the canvas and the paint film have led to craquelures. This issue is heightened by the canvas cut very close to the size of the stretcher bar, and with how much the stretcher-bar was keyed-out at the corners. As you can tell from the cleaning tests, the cotton tips picked up a fair amount of dirt contaminates.
Edgar Rupprecht was born in 1889 in Zanesville, Ohio. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago under Harry Wolcott, John Norton, and Karl Buehr; and was also influenced by the ultra-conservative Kenyon Cox, who visited Chicago in the spring of 1911 when he delivered the famous Scammon lectures. Cox also taught at the Art Institute, where he noticed that students were stressing expression over drawing and design, an influence that would have made its way into Rupprecht’s style.
Rupprecht won the Goodman Prize at the Art Institute in 1922 and the Holmes Prize in the following year. Perhaps Cox’s “Classic Point of View” was not what Rupprecht was looking for, as he enrolled in 1925 at Hans Hoffmann’s Schule für Moderne Kunst (School for Modern Art), taught by Hofmann himself. He became Hoffman’s assistant at The School for Modern Art’s summer sessions at Capri (1925-27) and Saint Tropez (1928-29). But the school was closed in 1932 due to hostilities from the Nazis Party.
Rupprecht did not continue down the modernist road. His style changed to a more realist-orient approach that maintained the principles of outlined forms and abstraction. This final style was closer to Charles Burchfield and other American Scene painters. The titles of Rupprecht’s works exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago between 1916 and 1948 suggest recognizable (if not strictly realistic) images, such as The Inlet and Setting Sail. It is possible that he was conforming to the dictates of the Public Works of Art Project during the 1930s, when government officials advised artists to submit only realistic works. Rupprecht was a member of the Chicago Society of Artists and he worked for the Federal Arts Project Easel Division until 1936.
This first edition sketch by Tallmadge and Watson Architects of the Saugatuck Woman’s Club just came in. It’s a wonderful piece of history and has great cultural significance for the area. As the photographs detail, a piece plywood had been fitted to the back, and this introduced a substantial amount of acid contaminates.
After de-fitting the sketch was rather smelly and we promptly placed it in a chemistry bath. Along the edges you can see the dark brown color caused by wood exposure on the back plus the rabbets on the side. Even the grain of the plywood has been acid-burned into the back of the paper. The frame is rather dirty, but it is cleaning up nicely.
In 1905 Thomas Tallmadge decided to start his own architectural firm with draftsman Vernon S. Watson. Although Watson was the chief designer, Tallmadge became the face of the firm due to his commitment as a historian and teacher. He taught at the Armour Institute of Technology from 1906 to 1926. Tallmadge is credited for coining the term “Chicago school” in an article for Architectural Review to describe the recent trends in architecture pioneered by Burnham, Louis Sullivan, and others. Tallmadge took sole control over the firm after Watson retired in 1936. They were best known for their Prairie School works.
This Carl Hoerman (1885 – 1955) oil painting suffers from a brittle canvas that lacks strength, as well as a contaminated paint surface from tar and nicotine. Located through the signature is a bad scrape. In one of the windows, there is an area where the painting was hit, and two more scrapes exist in the sky on the right-hand side. The stretcher bar needs more lift to support the canvas, and the frame is contaminated with dirt, has cornering issues, and would help the canvas if it was backed-up. Therefore, it will also be restored.
Across the internet this painting has been called the Italian Harbor and was given a date of 1937. With a little cleaning we discovered the date, right next to Hoerman’s signature, is clearly a 27, and, after some investigation on the internet, we believe that, more specifically, the harborscene depicts a part of the island of Capri, based on the color of the buildings, the mountain structure in the background, and the landmark clocktower on the right hand portion of the painting that appears to be the Piazza Umberto I.
Stay tuned for more. As you can see from our cleaning tests, there is plenty of contamination that needs to come off.
A shocking discovery was waiting for us when we started to clean this Carl Hoerman (1885 – 1955). The artist had used copper paint that reflects, particularly in the orange and red tones, when the light catches it just right. The first few photographs show this attribute. This would have been a very early instance for copper paint. Cleaning continued with great results, as shown by the in-process photographs. Previously, we had sutured the tears on the reverse. These were in-filled and then concealed on the front with in-painting. The original frame suffered from water damage and was also restored. Its key corners were rejoined and re-laminated. A few gauges were also in the frame, and the frame had aged into a brassy color. New gesso and clay were applied before re-gilding and adding new finish.
This oil painting suffers from heavy tar and nicotine stains across the surface. The first step is deep cleaning, which we’ve made strides already. Still to come will be the complete transformation, and a back-up to the frame to allow the painting to sit with ease. This restoration will be a great example for how a simple thing like cleaning can greatly influence how a painting looks.
From a prominent family of painters, Harold Betts (1881 – 1951?) followed in his ancestral footsteps and became a painter and illustrator, making important trips West in 1913 and 1929. He became especially known for his Grand Canyon paintings and his depictions of Pueblo Indians.
Betts lived in Chicago where he exhibited at the Art Institute; and in Muskegon, Michigan where he exhibited at the Hackley Gallery. He also exhibited at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
Initial cleaning visible at the top middle where the blue is brightest.
Starting to pay dividends.
Five months ago the Charlemont portrait of two boys came into our studio. With restoration complete on the painting and the frame, we delivered the artwork back to the client; happily, with a day when the snow wasn’t too bad. Once we safely carried the painting inside and navigated the staircase, we used new hardware in the wall and on the back of the frame to secure the portrait in place. The accent light was the client’s original, but we managed to help it with some cleaning. In fitting the portrait in the frame we chose an archival option with brass mending plates that are stronger and non-invasive, a much better option than the original mechanism. It’s with these larger jobs that require a diverse set of restoration skills that we get a great sense of joy and heartfelt warmth. We were very happy to be of service.
Regarded as one of Eduard Charlemont’s (1848 – 1906) greatest works, a set of three murals for the Burgtheater, the Austrian National Theater in Vienna, proved hard to find during our research, both in terms of a description and as photographs. In corresponding with the Burgtheater we came by the knowledge that the murals at the end of WWII had unfortunately been lost in a fire. Originally, they hung in the first intermission room. Two depicted scenes from Antiquity, and the third drew inspiration from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which we learned from the surviving sketches that would have been used as guides for painting the mural.
Before & After
Before & After
Iphigenia in Aulis, a play by Euripides.
Apollo and the Muses.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
This grand and decoratively ornate Italian High Front is a very impressive frame, but unfortunately the years had taken a toll on it. A large degree of coal soot had gathered on the frame, actually merging with the shellac finish. This, in addition to the size of the frame: roughly 57.5″ x 88.25″ with a height of 4.25″ and a width of 8,” made cleaning the frame a more involved and lengthy process. Many, many cotton tips were used.
Over time, the glue that was used to adhere the ornate elements, the leafs, vines, and grape leaves, had turned brittle. This lead to cracking. With a restorer’s adhesive and clamps, we were able to salvage these original elements. Another area that was susceptible to cracking, was the gesso. Once it cracked the problem continued up the layers and ultimately effected the gilding. An extensive amount of re-gilding had to be done, starting with laying the foundation of gesso and then adding clay. We captured some videos of the final steps of this process.
Due to the age and the weight of the mirror, the frame corners had separated, causing them to open. Rejoining brought the corners back into plane, and further stabilization was added to the reverse to help counteract the weight of the mirror, which is rather substantial. In numerous places there was loss of outer ornamentation. By using castes and molds we were able to recreate identical portions that could then be inserted. Some final gilding married the new portions to the old and gave the frame a wonderful, resplendent effect.