Polk Osage 1958

Due to differences in the oil paints used for this work, the different colors dried at different rates. This created rifts in the paint film, also known as craquelures. This type of problem was common for Color Field painters, including Leon Polk Smith (1906 – 1996) before he switched to acrylic paints. Over time as these problems emerged, Polk was told to coat the work with varnish, but unfortunately this introduced another element which dried and contracted at its own rate.

Using the Dutch method we stretched the painting and carefully cleaned it and removed the varnish–the black field was where it was it the most troublesome. Linen threads were then added to the reverse to add strength, and heat and vacuum were used to flatten the paint surface.

The original stretcher bar was a fixed corner, a design that does not allow for adjustments to keep the paint film taut. A new stretcher bar was made as well a float frame that matched the style of the previous frame. The painting was then delivered and installed at the client’s house.

On-site treatment of mold

This wonderful and expressive work of art by Jean Luc Guin Amant (1951) required some prompt mold treatment, which we were happy to do on-site.

By applying two restorer’s solution we neutralized the mold, and then did spot-treatments with a scalpel to make sure it was gone. The blow driver allowed our chemistries to dry quicker than usual; and the vacuuming prepared the surface, removing the dust and active spores. Mold can be a nasty type of invasion, as what it’s feeding off of is the paint itself. Preventative measures are the best, but in the case of emergencies were are able to make house calls.

Jean Luc Guin Amant has shown heavily throughout Europe and the United States in both solo and group exhibits. Guin Amant began painting on parachutes but moved to more traditional materials such as canvas. He belongs to a younger generation of artist who experiment with video and images in today’s visual art world. Most recently he completed a limited edition book “L’Anemone et l’Ancoliee” with the poet Michel Mathieu. Currently, Guin Amant lives and works in Paris, France.


Extensive efforts to carefully surface clean the portrait, as well as the efforts to stabilize the tears are captured in the photographs below. This is a large painting, roughly 57″ x 87,″ and by removing the top layers of varnish, that had darkened, the paint surface has lightened in color and gained a greater degree of contrast. This helps make the brighter colors pop, and in the darker background areas, it adds more clarity, form, and structure. Stay tuned for more . . .

Hunter Wood Night Sail

This painting by Hunter Wood (1908 – 1948) was on a stretcher that was too small and caused the canvas to bulge. Over time this tension cracked the paint film. Fungal invasions had occurred along the surface, most noticeably on the right half. They appear as little black specks and are rather noticeable in a work that is predominantly blue. Restoration will address these two issues as well as apply fresh conservation varnish and touch-up the frame. Stay tuned for more. . .

Hunter Wood was born in 1908 in Babylon, Long Island, New York. Sailing and painting were in his blood; his great grandfather, John L. Worden was commander of the Monitor in its battle against the Merrimac in the Civil War, and Hunter’s  father, Worden Wood, was a successful marine painter and sailor who served aboard the Clipper “Yankee” in the Spanish-American War and also in World War I. Worden’s artwork touched the lives of many due to its wide circulation, including paintings on postcards, pen & ink drawings on magazine covers such as Yachting, and some children’s book illustrations. Worden married a silent movie star (one of the Florodora girls), but they divorced in 1911 when Hunter was very young.

After a brief formal education Hunter left school and joined the New York Merchant Marines. He trained aboard a ship called the Newport before earning the rating of coxswain of the Captain’s personal boat. By the time he was 25, Hunter was sailing as quartermaster for several large shipping companies. During this time he also illustrated for several firms: the United States Lines, the French Line, the Macmillian Company, and the former United States Shipping Board. He was also on the staff of The World and The New York Herald in New York and The Boston Herald. He was a member of the 7th Regiment N. Y. N. G, and was known for meticulously making sure the rigging and proportions were accurate in his works. He died in 1948.

Jellett and Hone

These works come from two of the more prominent female Irish artists, especially in terms of abstract art, Mainie Jellett (1897 – 1944) and Evie Hone (1894 – 1955). They met while studying at Westminster School of Art, and in 1923 together they staged one of the first abstract painting exhibitions in Ireland, taking place at the Society of Dublin Painters. The initial response from the critics was not too favorable, as they cited a lack of “representational art,” but over time their judgements softened, and eventually they commended Jellett as an important artistic bridge between European and Irish art. In 1926 at the Dublin Radical Club, WB Yeats opened one of her exhibitions. She continued to show, including abroad at Paris, Versailles, Brussels, London, and Amsterdam. And Hone would continue her abstract creations into the 1940s when she then transitioned to stained glass art and created one her more famous works, Crucifixion and Last Supper windows for the Eton Chapel in Windsor.

Ater a close inspection, on the reverse of the Jellett painting, a patch was found from a previous restoration. The work also suffers from expansion and contraction, as well as a dirt contaminate layer, which is not too surprising as the paint film has a great “texture” quality to it. The Hone painting has issues of cupping, where the canvas has contracted faster than the paint film, causing the paint to lift. These areas will be consolidated and the painting as a whole will be carefully cleaned. Stay tuned for more . . .

Eduard Charlemont Portrait

With the rental of a large, accommodating truck, the careful navigation of a tight stairwell, and French double doors opened all the way, the studio saw the arrival of this handsome and large portrait by the European artist, Eduard Charlemont (1848 – 1906). The portrait is roughly 57″ x 87″ and is decorated with a wonderfully rich and ornate frame, although it’s one that’s a bit dirty. There a few unfortunate tears in the portrait. A small one near the taller boy’s right arm, and then a sizable one along the shorter boy’s left leg. Another concern is the warping evident in the top right corner where the painting has pulled back from the frame. Once we set the painting on its reverse, we found work done by a previous conservation, some hole repair. We stripped the frame of its unnecessary wiring and removed the adjunct frame backing that’ll we replace later on with a more quality material. All the prep work has finished, and now the conservation will take over starting with a thorough examination. Stay tuned for more . . .

Labeled as a precocious talent, Eduard Charlemont studied at the Vienna Academy. Originally from Znaim, Moravia (Czech Republic), following his studies Charlemont traveled in Italy, Germany, and France, and did some studying in Venice, before settling in Paris during the 1870s. In 1889 Charlemont won the gold medal at he Exposition Universelle, and his masterwork is considered to be three enormous panels for the Vienna City Theater, whereby each panels is nearly six feet wide. His artwork seemed to be as big as his talent.

After finishing his studies, Charlemont visited Italy, studied in Venice, traveled in Germany and France, and finally settled in Paris during the 1870s.  He was a regular exhibitor at the Salons, and won a gold medal at the 1889 Exposition Universelle.  In addition to his finely wrought genre scenes, Charlemont was sought after as a muralist.  His masterwork was three enormous panels for the Vienna City Theater, each panel measuring almost sixty feet wide.

Flyn WWII Portrait 1948

This keepsake, a family portrait, had previously been restored poorly. Originally there was damage due to a hard hit, as well as an unrelated hole near the center of the painting. The previous restorer cut the painting and wax-relined the picture, but due to humidity and other environmental factors the wax re-line delaminated and produced a number of large bubbles. We carefully removed the painting from the stretcher bar, and then from the reverse we gently used heat to loosen the wax re-line that we were eventually able to get in full by gently scraping as well as targeted chemical baths. Once it was gone we were then able to flatten the bubbled areas. The front surface was then cleaned and the portrait relined onto new linen, and then re-stretched using the original stretcher bar. After some in-painting and two coats of conservation varnish the portrait was placed in one of our custom whistler frames done in white gold.

The Commercial Record Article

Saugatuck Women’s Club works to restore art

The Commercial Road covered our restoration, custom frames, and presentation of two works by West Michigan artists: Albert Krehbiel and Nathaniel Steinberg. You can read the full article here, as well as our previous posts on Krehbiel’s work here, and Steinberg’s work here. We are very proud to contribute to the local art scene.

William Lester Stevens Self-portrait Finished

After careful cleaning to remove mold, dirt, and tobacco contaminates, this wonderful self-portrait by William Lester Stevens (1888 – 1969) found new life with a coat of varnish that protects the painting and also adds sheen to the colors to make a strength from what had been this painting’s weakness. Most dramatically is the background color which shows a stronger presence of light, and now more accurately depicts what an artist’s studio would look like. The one detail Stevens left out of the self-portrait was his pipe, which we believe was one of the main culprits for the contamination.

William Lester Stevens Self-portrait

This wonderful self-portrait of William Stevens (1888 – 1969) suffers from mold which has spread over the whole surface. We’ve done a few tests to see how our chemical solutions react with the artwork, but once the restoration is complete expect there to be brighter colors and a more accurate depiction of the studio light, something artists are so reliant on. For fun, we found and included a photograph of Stevens; although it’s a younger version, it’s a similar pose.

William Stevens was born in Rockport, Massachusetts. He began his art instruction under Parker S. Perkins and would later attend the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School and also study in Europe after World War I. Around 1934, Stevens moved to western Massachusetts and later to Conway in 1944. He not only taught in Princeton and Rockport, but also in Boston, Conway, and Springfield, Massachusetts, as well as in Washington D.C. He was a member of numerous art organizations, including an Associate and Academician of the National Academy of Design. His artwork is housed in public collections, including the Hickory Museum of Art, Ashville, North Carolina; Boston Art Club, Gloucester Museum of Art, Rockport Museum of Art, Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, and the Louisville Art Museum. Stevens was a founding member of the Rockport Art Association where his work was shown in a solo exhibition from September 27 to November 9, 2003.