Two Cora Bliss Taylor Portraits of One Sitter

These two portraits by Cora Bliss Taylor (1889-1986) are of the same sitter, and we believe they were painted around twenty years apart. The first in the photographs is the younger portrait. A dry paint film has led to some chips and losses, and there are more on the way, but it’s fascinating to see the similarities between the two versions, particularly the facial features and how the artist rendered them over the passage of time. The older portrait also suffers from a dry paint film that has chipped in places. The unique aspect of this painting is that it was originally a full-length portrait of the sitter, but was cut, and the photographs show the losses along this cutline. Stay tuned for more …

Cora Bliss Taylor was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on April 14, 1889. Her father was a veteran of the Civil War and passed away when she was 1 years old. During her childhood, the family traveled around the United States, and France when she was 11 years old, which is where she received her first art lessons.

Cora visited Saugatuck, Michigan, which was to become her home, on her honeymoon in 1914, with her husband, James W. Taylor, a Chicago attorney. She studied painting at the Art Institute of Chicago with Leon Kroll and Leopold Seyffert; Charles W. Hawthorne, Provincetown, Massachusetts; Andre L. Hote in Paris; Morris Kantor, Art Students League, New York; and Vance Kirkland, Denver University. She was a contemporary of Georgia O’Keefe.

Mrs. Taylor won the Chicago Woman’s Aid Prize, Edward B. Butler Prize, and Fine Arts Building Prize from the Art Institute of Chicago where she exhibited a number of times. She also was accepted for a number of exhibitions at the Detroit Museum of Arts and won several prizes, including the American Association of University Women’s prize for her watercolor, “Abandoned”. In 1945, she won Honorable Mention for a painting exhibited at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. She exhibited at the Chicago Galleries Association and other private galleries. Cora was a member of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters, and is listed in the original edition of “Who’s Who of American Women”.

In 1931, she founded the Taylor Art School on Holland Street in Saugatuck, a summer art school, with visiting instructors. The Taylor Art Gallery attracted 2,000 visitors who signed the guest register that first year. In 1931, as Art Director of the Saugatuck Chamber of Commerce, she was instrumental in attracting many Chicago people to the Saugatuck area. Mrs. Taylor continued to teach painting for many years, specializing in children. Quite a few of her students went on to make a career in art.

Her paintings are hanging at Hope College, Holland, Michigan; Saugatuck Masonic Lodge, Chicago Public Schools, a number of Women’s clubs, Emerson Unitarian Church, Houston, Texas; Sheridan Public Schools, Sheridan, Texas; and many private homes in Chicago, Western Michigan, and other areas of the country.

Cora Bliss Taylor passed away at the age of 97 on April 21, 1986.

Cora Bliss Taylor, center with hat, circa 1941.

 

L. Stepano River Scene

This oil painting by L. Stepano (20th Century) came in with a stubborn type of varnish. This was likely applied at some point to cover the numerous cuts across the surface, that were waiting for us once we removed the varnish. Using our gel system, a more robust cleaning method, we were able to remove the varnish. Careful cleaning then removed the surface contaminates and brightened the colors, which was a step in the right direction but also made the cuts more prominent. In-painting was then used to conceal them, and this was followed with new, conservation varnish. These last two steps will be repeated again to finish the restoration.

Unfortunately there is very little biographical information about L. Stepano. We know that he was an American artist from the 20th Century, and one of his paintings, Cattle In A Landscape, went to auction in 2017, having come from the estate of James Rees, the former President and Chief Executive Officer of George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

Don Smit Three Seascape Paintings

These paintings were done by Don Smit, who studied under Charles Vickery, an artist whose works we’ve had the pleasure of restoring and appraising.

All three paintings are troubled with mold invasions. On the first painting, the smallest, the mold has infected the backing, which is also delaminating. We are currently in the process of removing it. The other two were done on artists boards, and are in good condition. We’ll adhere new linen to the first painting, using a heat press which also has the benefit of making the canvas flat. If you look at the pictures of the last painting, you’ll notice it’s canvas has bowed along the edges. We’ll apply honeycomb backing, which has the strength to return it to plane. Molds will be treated through tenting, and the surfaces carefully cleaned. Conservation varnish will finish the restorations. Stay tuned for more…

Gabor Peterdi, The Burning Bush

This painting, The Burning Bush, by Gabor Peterdi (1915-2001) came in with dirt particulates on the surface and an old varnish that was discoloring. Careful cleaning and vacuuming removed the surface contaminates and the varnish. This allowed the colors to pop, and make this abstract work even more dynamic. A new frame was prepared by us, a Dutch Modernist with white gold.

Gabor Peterdi was born in Budapest in 1915 and he died an American citizen in Connecticut in 2001. His studies began at the Hungarian Academy. In 1930, he won the Prix de Rome for painting. He continued his studies in Paris at Academia delle Belle Arti, Academie Julian, and the Academie Scandinavien. In 1939, with the threat of yet another war, Peterdi decided to move to The United States. In New York he received a one-man exhibition of paintings at the Julien Levy Gallery. Peterdi taught at the Brooklyn Museum in 1948, organizing the graphic arts workshop there. He was also a professor of art at Hunter College in 1949, and a Professor Emeritus of Yale University in the 1960s. Peterdi’s book Printmaking Methods Old and New was published in 1959. It continues to be the standard technical reference for both printmaking students and professionals. Peterdi was a great innovator of printmaking techniques. His devised elaborate ways of color printing by collaging copper plates. Over his lifetime he was accorded over 40 prizes, grants, and other honors. His work is included in the Permanent Collections of over 150 institutions around the world.

Romanian Interior Painting

This painting came from Oradea, Romania, and is believed to have been done around 1910. Unfortunately, it had been in a flood, which left it with substantial problems. The water damage created widespread craquelures and rippled the canvas across the entire surface. Lodged in the back of the canvas was a bevy of dust, wood bits, broken glass and dead insects. Restoration will take some time, but with a painting in this condition, once complete it’ll be like seeing it for the first time. If you look closely at the window, there is a structure of a building and we’re hoping to possibly be able to identify it.

Oradea’s King Ferdinand Square is dominated by the State Theater that was designed in 1900 by Austrian architects, Fellner and Hellmer, who also designed the Vienna Opera House. Eight miles from the Hungarian border, Oradea has been inhabited since 300 BC. It’s current population is around 204,000. The pesky Crisu Repede River runs through it. Flood-banks have been able to tame the river, but in 1836 a large part of the town was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt in the 18th century through the plans of Viennese engineer Franz Anton Hillebrandt following the then-trendy Austrian architectural style called Secession with its richly decorated facades of pale pink, blue, green and white. In addition to the many Baroque buildings, Oradea is known for its rich collection of Art Nouveau architecture. It is the 10th largest city in Romania.

Oredea, Romania.

Update: JACOBSEN B.W. MORSE MARITIME PAINTING

Since our last post this maritime painting by Morse (1850-1921) has received a few new steps. A complete cleaning has been carried out on the surface. This lightened the color and made some of the paint and fly specks easier to see. The major and several tears were sutured from the reverse and pressed flat with blotters. We used a more substantial reline process, due to the severity of the tears. Mesh fabric, with restorer’s adhesive applied to both sides, were situated between the sutured areas and the new linen. The heat press adhered the layers under pressure and helped to flatten the surface. Next we’ll conduct another round of cleaning, and then touch up the tears with in-fill and in-painting before a final coat of conservation varnish. Stay tuned for more…

Antonio Jacobsen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, on November 2, 1850 to a family of violin makers. At an early age he enrolled at the Royal Academy of Design in Copenhagen, and studied until his family’s money ran out. At the age 18 it was compulsory for him to join the Danish military forces, but he escaped and sailed for America.

Praised for his freelance sketchwork the Marvin Safe Company commissioned him to decorate their safes. This work transitioned into commissions from sea captains and shipowners, and then into Steamship companies that wanted to record their fleet.

In 1880, he and his family moved to Hoboken, New Jersey. Jacobsen’s work was strongly desired during his lifetime and it’s estimated that he executed some 6,000 paintings. His works can be seen in most major collections of maritime art including the: Peabody Museum, Salem, MA.; The Mariners Museum, Newport News, VA.; Seaman’s Bank for Savings, etc. He died in 1921.

Arthur Schneider Duck Paintings

These two duck paintings by Arthur Schneider (1866-1942) came in with heavy contaminations of smoke and dirt particulates. Ducks Landing has a shellac covering that has turned brown and started to run. Ducks and Snipes has a few fingerprints along the right edge that appear to have been done in paint, and two significant dents in the paint canvas. Once cleaned, we expect these paintings to look significantly better; early tests have lifted significant amounts of  contaminates. Unfortunately, though, none of the steps we will need to take involves a water bath.

Born in 1866, Arthur E. Schneider was an American painter and illustrator from Madison, WI. He was best known for his landscapes and his Orientalist genre scenes depicting village streets, children and Arabs. He trained in New York City and Europe.

Schneider was to become the court painter to the Sultan of Morocco, Mulai Abd-ul-Aziz (abdelaziz of Morocco) [1878-1943]. He travelled to the country in November of 1900 and stayed until March, 1902. He took several other trips to Morocco, including one in 1905, in which he painted the Sultan’s portrait. In 1908, he built a painting studio in the Sultan’s garden. Schneider would travel with the Sultan to various cities including Tangiers and Fez, documenting the trip in watercolor sketches published by Century Magazine in 1903. The paintings were highly detailed and had a near-photographic quality, and had ironic names like “The Sultan and Play,” where the Sultan was playing pool.

Between 1905 and 1913, Schneider lived and worked in New York City. He moved around and was known to have lived and worked in Cleveland, Chicago, Tampa, FL, and Boston, MA.

He exhibited at the Salmagundi Club, American Watercolor Society, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Boston Art Club, the National Academy of Design, and the Art Club. Schneider was a member of the American Watercolor Society in New York City, the Salmagundi Club, and The Art Club.  His work is in the permanent collection of Whistler House Museum of Art in Lowell, MA.

Schneider died February 7, 1942.

G.A. Kadir Landscape of Buitenzorg, Java

This painting by G.A. Kadir (1900 – N/A) came in with a very dry and delicate canvas, and a heavy contamination across the surface. Careful cleaning removed the surface contaminates and then the tent method, using steam, will re-introduce moisture. Further application of consolidates will be administered to the linen directly. These measures will make the canvas more supple and allow it to hold the paint in a forgiving manner. A few small areas have paint loss, and they will be in-painted.

This painting was a gift in WWII to a soldier who had rescued the family’s son. It has tremendous value for our client, and we are very thankful that we can, in our own small way, lend our service to it.

Francois Beaucourt Dame a la Chandelle

This painting suffers from dirt particulates that have accumulated on the surface and in the layers of the older varnish. The paint film is dry, which is not surprising for a painting this old (1778). Dryness has led to craquelures and cupping. The canvas appears to be brittle, thin and dry.  There are numerous instances of old restoration and a coating of  asphaltum on the reverse.

This painting is the work of Francois Beaucourt (1740-1794; also known as Francois Malepart De Beaucort) who 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.

He died in Montreal in 1794.

Self-portrait of Francois Beaucourt.

Auguste Musin Golden Rays on Coast at Days End

The oil painting by Auguste Musin (1852-1920), Golden Rays on Coast at Days End, came in with a very poor shape and a dry linen. These two issues combined to create craquelures and cupping. The varnish had yellowed, and there were serval contaminates on the surface, most noticeably those from smoke. On the reverse, there were two small strips of tape that covered three holes: the largest about an inch in size, the smaller two about a quarter of an inch. There was also some poor in-painting that had been executed at some point to try and hide the craquelures. On some of the sails, there was actual paint loss.

Once the painting was de-fit, careful micro-vacuuming was carried out on the front and the reverse. New Belgian linen was archivally adhered to the reverse, which strengthened the foundation. A heat press was used to lay down the paint film, addressing some of the cupping and craquelures, with further hydration administered with spot treatments to return pliancy to the paint film and help consolidate.

The old in-painting turned out to be more extensive than originally thought. All of it was removed. New linen threads were fixed to the reverse to fix the three holes. With the cupping and craquelures consolidated, areas of loss appeared, which is typical. We in-filled and then in-painted to conceal these areas. With the old varnish removed, new conservation varnish was applied.

The original frame had been glazed to hide imperfections. This glaze was removed, and the frame cleaned and conditioned. Broken ornamentation of the frame was repaired, and a back-up given for strength and depth. The stretcher bar was given a lift to help the canvas sit in the frame without undo stress.

Auguste Henri Musin was born on April 4, 1852 in Oostende, Belgium. He was a marine artist, and is known today as one of the top European marine artist of the 19th and early 20th century. His father, Francois Etienne Musin, also a highly noted marine artist, was a teacher for Auguste, but there are more modern approaches that can be seen in the work of the younger Musin.

In 1872, Musin started to participate quite successfully in important European and American venues. In 1889, at The Paris Salon, he was awarded an honorable mention, and a gold medal in Rouen, France as well as medals in London, Lille, Lorient, Periquex, Limoges, Marseille, Dunkerque, Reims and many more. He settled in Brussels and, like his father, became considered one of Belgium’s top marine artists. When he married, in 1872, he settled in England, near London. During the 1880s he worked for the magazines: The Graphic, The London Times, and the L’Univers Illustre.

His marines were painted in Oostende, Belgium and in Holland, Scheveningen, Noordwijk, Terneuzen, Rottendam and Dordrecht. He also painted in Brittany, France and Alicante, Spain. A large number of paintings were sold to the American market through dealers that exported his paintings.

Musin died in St. Joost-ten-Noode on December 10, 1920.

Today, his paintings can be found in private and public collections, worldwide, including in Belgium museums in Bruges, Brussels, Oostende, and Liege. They can also be found in museums in Madrid, Spain, and Reims, France.