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.
Here are the two strips of tape.
Before and after of in-painting.
And here’s Golden Rays on Coast at Days End.