George Catlin Catching The Wild Horse Cleaning

The initial condition of this George Catlin (1796-1872) print suffered from stains, discoloration, and severe foxing. Foxing is a condition where a brown discoloration appears. The origins for this are somewhat unknown. It’s believed to either be a fungus growth, or an oxidation agent from the components in the paper, or both. The good news is that foxing does not compromise the integrity of the paper. We’ve circled just some of the foxing. The larger circle shows a slight magnification which helps bring out the rich colors and detail of the Native America–some of the strong qualities of this print.

 

The above photographs show the print going through a solution bath. This reduced the foxing and brought out the blue in the clouds, and the white-capped mountains in the distance. We’re getting closer to how the artist envisioned it.

 

Once the print was out of the solution bath, further cleaning was carried out to achieve these pristine results. Crisp whites, most dramatically in the eye of the central horse but also along the paper’s border, heightened detail in the complex grass areas, and an increase feel of the texture in the background. Also noteworthy is a spot at the bottom left of the last picture. There’s a little pinhole where the printer used to place the print.

Restoration will conclude with a custom frame. Stay tuned for more . . .

Jack Gates Pastel Landscape Rustic Vista

This pastel by Jack Gates (1903 – 1997) suffers from flaked pastel and harmful acids. With a brush we were able to clear away some of the loose areas where the upper layers of pastel had flaked, particularly the white portion of the sky, which is the top of three layers and seems to be of a lesser quality as we’ve noticed it’s more prone to delaminating. We also used a scalpel to secure the areas where flaking had started. From the reverse, the work was de-acidified as harmful acids were in the board and were in the process of making their way into the pastels. Stay tuned for more. . .

An impressionist painter of landscapes, figures, still lifes, interiors, and marine scenes, Jack Gates (1903 – 1997) was known for his traditionalist style at a time when modernist, abstract work was in vogue. There is a very apparent influence of the French Tonalist painter Camille Corot.

He was born in the Ukraine and began painting as a youngster in Russia. He studied at the National Academy of Design before emigrating to New York City and attending the Art Students League as a student of Sidney Dickenson, Ivan Olinksy, and Robert Phillip.

He was a member of the the Salamagundi Club, the Allied Artists of America, the Knickerbocker Society, and the Hudson Valley Art Association. Commercially he was represented by Hammer Galleries and The Grand Central Art Gallery. U.S. Navy personnel commissioned him to paint portraits of high-ranking personnel, as did well known personalities: Bess Meyerson, Walter Matthau, and Tony Bennett.

David Shirey, a New York Times art critic, described Gates’ style as personable and inviting, and that these qualities allowed his paintings to “encourage [the viewer] to contemplate them, to walk through them without feeling cramped and to breathe freely among their trees, skies, ponds and fields.” Part of this effect Shirey attributed to the types of brushstroke Gates could employ: “a gestural Expressionist brush that cossets the surfaces of paintings but [he] can also assail them -dashing, sweeping and gliding. He governs the speed of his strokes to accommodate the mood of his pictures.”

Double-sided Louis XVI Frame

In order to present the double-sided letter of French architect and sculptor Gilles-Paul Cauvet (1731 – 1788) we built a custom double-sided frame in the Louis XVI Neoclassical style with a 3/4″ width and a double mat. The frame was gilded and the pedestal was stained with light mahogany.

Cauvet was a prominent sculptor, architect, and designer at the French court. Sculptor for Louis XVI’s brother, the comte de Provence, later Louis XVIII, he also directed the Académie de Saint-Luc, the guild of decorative painters and sculptors. He designed carved boiserie (wood paneling) and furniture for houses in Paris. Many wood carvers were influenced by his book of engraved designs for interiors and furniture, which was published in 1777. We were happy to use our own ingenuity in woodcrafting to help present this bifold treasure.

WWI Posters

A collection of American WWI posters came in with relatively good condition, considering the brief task they were meant for. The most important step will be to deacidify the works in order to neutralize the wood pulp, which is the cause for the existing stains. Separate treatments will then address these stains, and by matching similar types of paper, we’ll be able to repair the holes and tears. These posters owe the preservation of their rich colors in large part to the fact that they were stored away from sunlight. Restoration will maintain their original integrity while also allowing them to be shown. A key difference as these posters capture an important time in American history.

To help finance the war, the United States government issued bonds, also called Liberty Bonds, in 1917 and 1918, raising a total of $21.5 billion for the war effort. While banks and financial institutions bought many of the bonds, a massive public relations campaign was mounted to urge individuals to make purchases as well. The below posters were created by the artists: Edmund Ashe, John Sheridan, Albert Herter, Clarence Underwood, and Gil Spear.

Kinley Shogren Nellie

This watercolor depicts Mystic, Connecticut with artist Kinley Shogren’s (1924 – 1991) signature use of realism. It was executed in 1984 and was unfortunately incorrectly fitted in its mat. Over time this caused the artwork to bow. Restoration will carefully flatten the work, reestablishing the composition to the artist’s original intent and making it more suitable to place in its new custom Florentine frame with silver to marry the watercolor’s softer tones. Finally, UV-filtering glass will protect the work for years to come.

Kinley Shogren was a Cleveland artist of the mid-20th Century who was known for watercolor scenes around rural Ohio, and was an authority on Great Lakes shipping and ships. A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1949 his output is estimated to total over 3,500 paintings, including hundreds of boat commissions as well as marine birds, canal locks, and landscapes. His realistic illustrative quality as a painter won him great popularity throughout his career, and the Plain Dealer said he was one of the most popular artists with corporate buyers in the Cleveland area.

Nora McGuinness Mending the Nets

This gouache by Nora McGuinness (1901-1980) suffered from some adhesive and a mount that were non-archival. A soak in an aqueous chemistry bath allowed us to remove the paper from the mount which then allowed us to remove the adhesive. Previously, the work had been behind glass that did not protect against UV rays. This resulted in a moderate degree of sun damage that would have worsened into color shock had the exposure been longer. We were able to de-acidify the work, place it onto a museum mount, and touch up some of the colors with in-painting. Glass that filters UV light will be used to help maintain the dynamic colors, which McGuinness shows great skill with, and was aided by her choice of medium: gouache, a diluted type of paint, similar to watercolors, but with greater texture.

The Irish landscape artist, graphic designer and illustrator Nora McGuinness (1901 – 1980) was born in County Derry, Northern Ireland. She studied drawing and fine art painting at the Metropolitan School of Art, Dublin, the Chelsea Polytechnic, London, and on the advice of Mainie Jellett and Evie Hone, under the French artist André l’Hote, in Paris. She is known for vivid, highly colored, flattened landscapes executed in a spontaneous style which reveal the strong influence that l’Hote had on her. This connection led to her association with the modern movement in Ireland. A founding member of the Irish Exhibition of Living Art, and its president in 1944, she first showed at the RHA in 1924, and would later exhibit at the Victor Waddington Galleries (Dublin), the The Dawson Gallery (Dublin), and the Wertheim Gallery (London). Together with Nano Reid, she represented Ireland in the 1950 Venice Biennale.

Her work appears in all the major Irish public collections – including: Hugh Lane Art Gallery, Dublin; Arts Council of Ireland; Arts Council of Northern Ireland; Ulster Museum, Belfast; Crawford Art Gallery, Cork; Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), Dublin; National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin; University College Dublin; Waterford Art Gallery Collection; The Victoria and Albert Museum London; Meath County Council – as well as in several important overseas collections such as the Joseph H. Hirschorn collection in New York.

Sir George Solti conducts the Chicago Symphony in Vienna

This serigraph by Franklin McMahon (1921 – 2012) is entitled “Sir George Solti conducts the Chicago Symphony in Vienna.” Harsh mold damage had obscured many of the faces in the crowd which restoration brought back to clarity. The finished work is housed in a custom Italian frame. A couple of the finer points we enjoy about this print is 1) how its art about art, which is kind of like a bilingual ability, and 2) how it represents a gathering of people enjoying and sharing the gifts of art, which is kind of like the adoration of an unspoken language, and something we find worth preserving.

Kukla, Fran and Ollie

This photograph came in with dryness and cracking which caused some of the gelatin to lift. There were also parts where non-archival tape had been applied, and at some point a liquid had gotten the photograph wet on the reverse which dried and left ripply contours. The most challenging part of the restoration was consolidation, where we used gentle heat to fuse new gelatin with the original to create one healthy and uniform film. In-painting then matched the new colors to the original.

Kukla, Fran and Ollie (KFO) was an early American television show using puppets that ran from 1947 to 1957. Created by Burr Tillstrom, who was also the only puppeteer on the show, it was known for its softer humor which relied on its relationship between show characters and viewers, and built as the show progressed and eventually the number of adults watching actually surpassed the number of children. Kukla was the earnest leader of the puppets, Ollie the roguish one-toothed dragon, and Fran, Fran Allison, was the radio comedian and singer who supplied a cheery voice and played the role of a big sister was usually the only human to appear on screen. In 1949 KFO won a Peabody award, and an Emmy award in 1954 for Best Children’s Program another another in 1971; this time for Outstanding Children’s Programming.

George Catlin Catching the Wild Horse

This hand-tinted, engraved print by George Catlin (1796-1872) suffers from substantial foxing, discoloration, and stains. The stain on the reverse is something we believe was caused by food, which is a little funny as the print itself is probably more valuable than a table. But these things happen, and the client will be happy to know the work’s value, and that the food stain did not bled through the paper and that it will clean up nicely, as will the foxing and the discoloration. Stay tuned as we finish the restoration and prepare a new custom frame with a wide French mat.

Born in Pennsylvania, Catlin became one of the most prominent chroniclers of Native Americans and the land west of the Mississippi. Indian lore was a fascinating aspect of Catlin’s childhood, as his mother, when she was a girl, was kidnapped by Indians. Several years later, in 1824, after Catlin had given up his life as a lawyer for that of an artist, he witnessed a delegation of Plains Indians, described as “lords of the forest,” which aroused in him a great determination to become a pictorial historian of Indians. For the next six years he painted portraits of Indians on reservations in western New York before venturing into the West, the land beyond the Mississippi. He was aided by Lewis and Clark and actually spent a two year expedition with Clark while Clark negotiated Indian treaties. Subsequent trips into the West were made during the summer months, while winter months were spent in the East looking for financial backers. Known as a quick and skilled painter with a sympathetic eye, Catlin created a unique and substantial record of American Indian people which he described as “honest, hospitable, faithful, brave, warlike, cruel, revengeful, relentless,—yet honourable, contemplative, and religious being.” In a span of eight years he visited over 45 different tribes, participated in buffalo hunts, observed Indian ceremonies, games, dances and rituals, and emerged with 520 oil portraits and paintings.  His work has been particularly noted for the “roughness and energy” of its subject matter, which left an impression not only on America, but also in Europe.

Kollwitz Revolt

This intaglio by Käthe Kollwitz (1867 – 1945) is a strong example of her signature work: dark and emotionally charged subjects amidst war, injustice, and death. She herself suffered a tumultuous life. In World War I, she lost a son and fell into extreme bouts of depression. She, however, found one mechanism by which to cope: “Drawing is the only thing that makes life bearable.” But in 1933, as a professor at the Prussian Academy, she was forced to resign as Hitler rose to power. During the war, Allied bombs landed on her house and destroyed much of her work. And two weeks prior to the war ending, she passed away. In her final letter she noted that, “War accompanies me to the end.” Another salient point she made, encapsulating her situation both as an artist and as a citizen of Europe was, “Worst of all is that every war already carries within the war which will answer it. Every war is answered by a new war.”

Revolt depicts the spirit of revolution hovering over an army of protesters. Dirt has accumulated across the surface and the original mat and glass were not archival. There is also a hole at the bottom right that will need to be addressed. Stay tuned for more . . .