A Couple of Works by W.E. Baum

This pair of W.E. Baum (1884 – 1956) artworks came into the studio recently. The first is an oil painting depicting the view from his studio. The second is a landscape from a place he knew well, Sellersville, Pennsylvania.

On the oil painting there have been a few areas of loss, and the canvas has cupped due to the moisture let in by the frame. The typical dirt contaminates also plague the surface of this artwork. In-fill and in-painting will restore the areas of loss, and deep cleaning with remove the dirt contaminate. To stabilize the canvas it will be placed on a honeycomb panel. This will have the added benefit of undoing the cupping so it can remain flat. Its frame is a 19th Century frame. There are some areas of loss and they will be addressed through new casting.

The pastel was done on a board, and it is possible that there was also paper involved, but further investigation will be needed to determine that. However, the board contains acids that have migrated to the pastel and are degrading it at the cellular level through chemical burns. We also suspect that the acids are causing staining, but that the pastels are covering it. In some places the pastel has started to flake, which is largely due to its age. Consolidation will return it to a consistent plane. The board will be deacidified, and if we find that there is paper, it will also be deacidified and then placed on new, archival board. This pastel came in a art nouveau frame that lacks the depth needed to keep the pastel from the glass–this has caused some pastel loss in the past. To fix this, a back-up will be given to the frame, and UV-filtering glass will replace the original glass.

Stay tuned for more…

Walter Emerson Baum, the second of five children, was born in Sellersville, Pennsylvania on December 14, 1884. His family was known for musical talents, but he studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and later received an honorary degree from Lehigh University.

Baum was a prolific artist who exhibited in over one-hundred fifty museum exhibitions and received over thirty major awards. Baum gained nationwide recognition when he won the prestigious Sesnan Gold Medal in 1925 at the Pennsylvania Academy of Art Annual. Later he won the Zabriskie Prize in 1945 from the American Watercolor Society and the Medal of Honor in 1953 from the National Arts Club.

He is considered the “father of art in the Lehigh Valley,” and he wrote extensively on the subject for the Sellersville Herald, the Doylestown Intelligence and the Allentown Evening Chronicle. He also lent his expertise and criticism to the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin and the Philadelphia Sunday Bulletin serving as art editor and critic for both as well as for the publication, Two Hundred Years, a study of the Pennsylvania Germans and their heritage.

His dedication to the improvement and preservation of art culminated with his founding of the Lehigh Art Alliance and the co-founding of the Allentown Art Museum. Between 1918 and 1926, Baum taught art classes at his home in Sellersville. After a student suggested that he offer summer art classes in Allentown, Baum founded his own school of art in 1929.

Besides directing the Baum School of Art, Baum worked as the first director of the Allentown Art Museum and amassed a major regional art collection of the period. In June of 1956, Baum retired as director of the Baum School and the Allentown Art Museum. Later that month he wrote his last column for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. Shortly thereafter, on July 12, 1956, he died of a heart attack.

Hoerman Grand Canyon Original American Impressionist 22K Frame

We were very happy with how our original frame turned out and with how it paired with the Hoerman Grand Canyon landscape. The quality that struck us about the painting were the layers of geological progression receding into the distance and how the cloud gave commonality to both the progression and also the distance. We took this quality, and within the American Impressionist vein, simplified it in our corner design with what we’re calling “Mountains and Leaves.” We were also pleased with how the richness of the 22K gold picks up the red tones of the Grand Canyon and gives a warm, open, and inviting quality.

Robert Wood Autumn in the Woods Landscape

This is the second Robert Wood (1889 – 1979) painting we’ve had in studio. This one has a substantial coating of tar and nicotine, and in the sky area, where the paint is thinner, some areas of loss were minor hits have occurred. Along the perimeter, where the stretcher bar pushed the canvas against the frame, is a crack in the paint film.

Stronger than usual chemicals were needed to remove the tar and nicotine. On the reverse we applied a restorer’s chemical to clean and hydrate the painting. Cleaning to the front has had a stunning effect. Wood was known for his Bluebonnet paintings, and you get some of that blue in the sky. Cleaning also reveals the intimacy of the brushstrokes and reveals the technical ability of Wood.

After in-painting, re-stretch, re-fit and conservation varnish, this painting will be all done. Stay tuned for more, the transformation photos are sure to be remarkable.

Robert William Wood was one of the most prolific landscape painters in American history. His career spanned several decades. Regions he is most known for include the Texas hill country, the California cost, the Rocky Mountains, upstate New York and the Sierra Nevada.

Wood’s success was unusual in that he did very little promotion of his own work. Instead he placed faith in the natural appeal and time-enduring qualities that strove for, dedicating himself to his craft.

He was born in Sundgate, Kent, England, and immigrated to the United States in 1910. Subsisting on odd jobs and traveling heavily, Wood, along with his family, finally settled for a time in San Antonio, Texas where he became a pupil of Jose Arpa, a Spanish painter who studied at the Seville Academy.

Wood’s style began in the vein of 19th century English Landscape and evolved to include impressionist brushstrokes and more vibrant colors. Robert Wood continued to paint until his death. He died in Bishop, California.


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.

Custom Frame for Mathias Alten Landscape

In case you missed our post about restoring this Mathias Alten (1871-1938) landscape, you can find it here. To match the elegance of the painting, a frame in the style of a reverse-slope modernist Whistler was chosen, and prepared by us. Antique 22K gold over red and yellow clay was picked out to accent the softer sky tones. This was further enriched with a mahogany ebonized liner.

Born in Gusenburg, Germany, Mathias Alten is hailed as the foremost painter of Grand Rapids, Michigan and a second-generation Impressionist whose primary theme was agrarian labor. He was apprenticed to Joseph Klein, a decorative painter in Saint Wendel, Germany and worked on ceiling and wall decorations for churches and theaters.

At 17, he emigrated to Grand Rapids, Michigan, which was a major manufacturing center and vital art community. He studied with Edwin A. Turner and first exhibited his work at the Michigan State Fair in 1896.  Some of his earliest works are floral stilllife, a theme to which he continued to return; he also did figure and portrait painting, but his landscapes defined the direction of his work.

In 1898, he went to France and settled in Paris after spending time painting fishing scenes in Etaples, an artists’ colony on the French coast. He studied at the Academie Julian with Benjamin Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens and won a gold metal for the best figure drawing. Interested in animal drawing, he attended classes at the veterinary school and then traveled extensively throughout France and Italy and other parts of Europe.

Returning to Grand Rapids, he and Constant Fliermans opened a studio and art school together, and then on his own he pursued an active career as a a portrait and figure painter, and also did numerous murals. His figure paintings were unusual for that time because they were not elegant subjects but working class people straining their muscles.

From 1902, after spending time at the Old Lyme, Connecticut art colony, he became increasingly devoted to plein air rural landscape painting with sparkling sunlight and colors of Impressionism. In 1910, he traveled abroad for a year, doing many rural scenes of Holland, and in New York, he saw paintings by and was much influenced by the Spanish Impressionist Joaquin Sorolla whose work became a lasting influence in subject matter and a palette that was more colorful and sunlit than his previous work. In 1912, he traveled in Spain, and much of his work from that time reflected Spanish subjects.

To escape the harsh winters he made trips to southern California in 1929 and 1933-34. His good friend Norman Chamberlain had settled in Laguna Beach. While visiting there he was active with the local art colony and painted coastal scenes and a series of missions. He achieved success in Los Angeles due to his daughter’s promotion of his works.

He died in Michigan on March 8, 1938.

Edgar A. Rupprecht Landscape

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.

Informal by Tadeusz Kantor

This oil panting by Tadeusz Kantor (1915 – 1990) called Informal came in not needing a whole lot of work–it’s on its way to auction. We did address the surface contaminates that were across the painting. You can see how much we were able to get based on the pictures with the cotton tips. Kantor used very interesting techniques with translucent gel-coatings that are similar to vanish but have pigments that create a skin-like surface. Due to this we exercised caution and conservatism when cleaning the painting.

Tadeusz Kantor (6 April 1915 – 8 December 1990) was a Polish painter, assemblage artist, set designer and theatre director. Kantor is renowned for his revolutionary theatrical performances in Poland and abroad.

Born in Wielopole Skrzynskie, Galicia (then in Austria-Hungary), Kantor graduated from the Cracow Academy in 1939. During the Nazi occupation of Poland, he founded the Independent Theatre, and served as a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków as well as a director of experimental theatre in Kraków from 1942 to 1944. After the war, he became known for his avant-garde work in stage design including designs for Saint Joan (1956) and Measure for Measure (1956). Specific examples of such changes to standard theatre were stages that extended out into the audience, and the use of mannequins as real-life actors.

Disenchanted with the growing institutionalization of avant-garde, in 1955 he with a group of visual artists formed a new theatre ensemble called Cricot 2. In the 1960s, Cricot 2 gave performances in many theatres in Poland and abroad, gaining recognition for their stage happenings. His interest was mainly with the absurdists and Polish writer and playwright Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz (also known as “Witkacy”). Stage productions of Witkacy’s plays The Cuttlefish (1956) and The Water Hen (1969) were regarded as his best achievements during this time. A 1972 performance of The Water Hen was described as “the least-publicized, most talked-about event at the Edinburgh festival”.

Dead Class (1975) was the most famous of his theatre pieces of the 1970s. In the play, Kantor himself played the role of a teacher who presided over a class of apparently dead characters who are confronted by mannequins which represented their younger selves. He had begun experimenting with the juxtaposition of mannequins and live actors in the 1950s.

His later works of the 1980s were very personal reflections. As in Dead Class, he would sometimes represent himself on stage. In the 1990s, his works became well known in the United States due to presentations at Ellen Stewart’s La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, which inspired Lower East Side cultural leaders such as the Nuyorican poet Giannina Braschi.[1]

Throughout his life, Kantor had an interesting and unique relationship with Jewish culture, despite being a nominal Catholic, Kantor incorporated many elements of what was known as “Jewish theatre” into his works.

Kantor died in Kraków.

Fish Fertilizer Canvas Banner Waterbath

Time for “catch and release” for this fish fertilizer banner. We had it swimming around in a large water bath at our new studio. We used our filtered water and select chemistry to get at the dirt contaminates, which came off so easily they clouded the water. We captured some of this on video. This guy’s not quite ready to be released fully. Check back for more. . .

The Jarecki Chemical Co. established by Gustav Jarecki in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1881. Gustav Jr, working for his father, was sent to Ohio to start a plant in Sandusky. Located on the foot of First Street, and adjacent to Sandusky Bay, its location made it convenient for obtaining fish, and also for shipping the final product by water. One of the best selling products at the Sandusky factory was a fertilizer made from fish by-products. The plant operated from 1887 to 1920, when it was sold to the Armour Fertilizer Co. (Armour ceased operations in Sandusky in the 1960s.) In the early 1900s, Gustav Jarecki, Jr. moved to Cincinnati where he established another branch of the company.

Fish Fertilizer Canvas Banner

This banner for Jarecki Cemical Company’s Fish Manures was actually found in a wall, and was as insulation. Due to this out-of-the-sun storage, the colors of the banner have been maintained quite well. There is a fair amount of dirt contamination, however, as well as some degradation of the fabric. The banner will be micro-vacuumed and dipped in a cleaning solution and then allowed dried with weight to undo the folds. We’re presently sourcing some local barn wood that we’ll use to make a custom frame, the style designed to the client’s liking. Stay tuned for more. . .

The Jarecki Chemical Co. established by Gustav Jarecki in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1881. Gustav Jr, working for his father, was sent to Ohio to start a plant in Sandusky. Located on the foot of First Street, and adjacent to Sandusky Bay, its location made it convenient for obtaining fish, and also for shipping the final product by water. One of the best selling products at the Sandusky factory was a fertilizer made from fish by-products. The plant operated from 1887 to 1920, when it was sold to the Armour Fertilizer Co. (Armour ceased operations in Sandusky in the 1960s.) In the early 1900s, Gustav Jarecki, Jr. moved to Cincinnati where he established another branch of the company.