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.
Still work to do.
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.
American cast frame with very delicate and intricate iconography that mixes ancient Greek lamb’s tongue with American grape and walnut. There are noticeable areas of loss as well as stress from the weight of the mirror driving apart the frame where it’s most susceptible, the corners. Casts will be prepared from the remaining iconography which we’ll make molds from to replace the lost areas. Rejoining, and stabilization to the reverse side will have the frame looking great. Stay tuned for finished photographs . . .
The frame was in very tough condition, but was period and had original gold underneath the bronzing, and was asked to be restored by the client.
Where possible we took the bronze down to the original gold, and then matched it with new gilding. The frame was backed-up, re-stabilized, and the joinery adjusted. In-filling was used to mend the wood splits that had occurred in some of the more intricate flourishes of the frame, particulars the corners. The restoration added a great deal of stability and shine to what is truly a great frame.