Plat Map of A.G. Spalding Land Association

This plat map was mounted on a period muslin fabric. Dirt contaminates are across the surface and cloth frays, crease marks, and border deterioration have affected its stability. Acid stains have caused discoloration, and some instances of the coloring, writing, and stamp-marks have deteriorated.

Testing has begun on all colors and the lead writing. These tests show that some color is friable. The map will be removed from the muslin, as it’ll be easier to deep clean both when they are separate. Acid baths will neutralize and lift the staining. Paper repairs to the areas where the structural integrity is challenged will be made by incorporating new paper of a similar quality. Where necessary in-painting will return the colors to their original state, and the frays along the border will be kept how they are. Once the map and the muslin are ready, they will be re-lined together.

Albert Goodwill Spalding was an American baseball pitcher, manager, and executive in the early years of professional baseball. He co-founded the A.G. Spalding sporting goods company, and following his retirement as a baseball player, he became the president and part-owner of the Chicago White Stockings. He would later call for the commission that investigated the origins of baseball and credited Abner Doubleday with creating the game. He also wrote the first set of official baseball rules. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939, a posthomous honor, having passed in 1915 at the age of 66.

Albert Spalding’s 1871 Boston Red Stockings baseball card

River Themed Watercolors

A couple of like-themed watercolors came in with similar issues. Dirt particulates across the surface of the font, and on the back acidic tape and adhesive had transferred acidic compounds to the paper which led to staining. As far as the watercolor paint, both came in with compromised portions. These parts were in-painted to return them to their original state. We prepare some before-and-after to highlight how dramatic this effect can be even for a watercolor.

The watercolor with the two fishing shanties is by Nathaniel Steinberg (1893 – 1976) and the watercolor with the dredge is by an unknown artist. We restored another Steinberg watercolor back in 2017 and you can that blog here.

Jean-Francois Millet Drawing in Custom Dutch Frame.

This drawing by Jean-François Millet (1814-1875) came in with foxing on the paper, which caused brownish discoloration. There were also dirt particulates across the surface.

Select chemistry baths lifted the foxing and helped return the original color to the paper as well as halt the future spread. A custom Dutch Frame with white gold was prepared, and a rice-paper hinge was used to secure the drawing to a heavy 8-ply mat. Museum glass, besides filtering UV-light, is also know for how well it handles the glare of lights, as seen in the last photograph, provided the quintessential touch of a restoration: unnoticed. We are very pleased with how the frame compliments the drawing and pulls the viewer’s eye inward, to accentuate the dynamic line strokes of Millet.

Jean-François Millet, (born October 4, 1814, Gruchy, near Gréville, France—died January 20, 1875, Barbizon), French painter renowned for his peasant subjects.

Millet spent his youth working on the land, but by the age of 19 he was studying art in Cherbourg, France. In 1837 he arrived in Paris and eventually enrolled in the studio of Paul Delaroche, where he seems to have remained until 1839.

After the rejection of one of his entries for the Salon of 1840, Millet returned to Cherbourg, where he remained during most of 1841, painting portraits. He achieved his first success in 1844 with The Milkmaid and a large pastel, The Riding Lesson, that has a sensual character typical of a large part of his production during the 1840s.

The peasant subjects, which from the early 1850s were to be Millet’s principal concern, made their first important appearance at the Salon of 1848 with The Winnower, later destroyed by fire. In 1849, after a period of great hardship, Millet left Paris to settle in Barbizon, a small hamlet in the forest of Fontainebleau.

He continued to exhibit paintings of peasants, and, as a result, periodically faced the charge of being a socialist. Letters of the period defending Millet’s position underline the fundamentally classical nature of his approach to painting.

By the mid-1860s, Millet’s work was beginning to be in demand. Official recognition came in 1868, after nine major paintings had been shown at the exposition of 1867. Important collections of Millet’s pictures are to be found in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and in the Louvre.

Jean-François Millet

Koepf Watercolors

This collection of Werner Koepf watercolors includes 16 works. They are in good condition and for the most part only need de-acidification and surface cleaning; a few do have scuff marks that need to be addressed. They are on the smaller size, about 5″ x 7 3/4.” Each watercolor will be matted and framed. We love the playful nature represented in these works combined with their clean, rich color tones, charmingly held by Koepf’s abstract composition choices. Compared to his oil paintings, these works represent a more playful, whimsical take, and they give a deeper look at the imagination of Koepf as several represent variations on the same subject matter. The executions of these works reminds us of Hans Hofmann and Paul Klee. Stay tuned for more…

Werner Koepf was born in Neckarsulum, Baden-Württemberg, Germany and emigrated with his parents and brother to the United States in 1929. During the Great Depression he worked as a house painter. In 1937 his work was prominently mentioned in the New York Times’ review of The Society of Independent Artists 19th Annual Exhibition. With his talent he gained many connections in the art world: Morris Kantor, a trustee of Contemporary Arts arranged three scholarships for Koepf at the Art Students League from 1937-1939, and Daniel Catton Rich, the Director of Fine Arts at the Art Institute of Chicago paved the way for his inclusion in the Institute’s 52nd Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture in 1941.

Koepf served in the US Army during World War II. Starting as a translator, between 1942-1945, he was then transferred to the European Theater where he served with the 496th Heavy Automotive Ordnance Company. In November 1945, he returned to the United States and settled in Derby, Connecticut.

In 1952 he was accepted into Yale University where he was awarded the prize for outstanding achievement in the School of Fine Arts for 1952-1953 by Josef Albers. Maintaining his European contacts, Koepf showed numerous paintings, including one man shows in Paris, Stockholm, and Bremen.

Werner Koepf died at his home in March of 1992.

William M. Hannah Watercolor Landscape

This painting suffered from a cardboard wood pulp based mount. Over time this had introduced acidic components to the paper, causing staining and a deterioration of the paper strength. Tape residue was along the perimeter. 

The painting was soaked in chemistries to remove it from its mount. Tape residue was carefully removed. Another round of chemistries lifted and neutralized the acid stains. Blotters were then used to simultaneously dry the paper and press it flat. 

This watercolor was executed by Willam M. Hannah (1855-1927) who was originally from Massachusetts.

Female Portrait by Alex Katz

This work on paper by Alex Katz (1927-) suffers from foxing and from folds in the paper. It measures 24″ x 40″ and is an excellent example of the Katz style. Stay tuned for more…

The son of Russian immigrants, Alex Katz was born July 24, 1927 in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Queens in a liberal, Bohemian setting. He is a figure painter of realistic portraits of friends and family, and his figures are usually relaxed close-ups from a frontal perspective and appear in a flattened manner. With his artwork, he strives to convey the feeling that it is good to be alive.  It has been said that his style highly influenced the popularity of New Realism in the 1970s. Along with his associates Al Held and Philip Pearlstein,  and others who were struggling against the ‘titanic presences of Pollock and de Kooning’ and other abstract expressionists.

Montana Immigration Document from 1894

This family document of Montana issued Immigration papers from 1894 had been stored with the papers folded. Creases formed that caused these areas in the paper to become very fragile. Substances of candy, shellac, and glue were found across the document. What likely happened was that these substances found their way onto the document at various times, and later, with water damage, these substances moved, pooled, and concentrated in the same areas, represented by the darkest spots in the photos. While difficult to remove, these substances tell a wonderful and rich history and give a glimpse into what the immigration process was like. Acid stains had also led to the deterioration of the paper quality.

Select Chemistry baths helped soften the paper and the glue that held them together. With careful scalpel work and water baths we were able to separate the pages. De-acidification neutralized the acid stains and lifted their discoloration. In-fill with paper of like quality mended the areas of loss, and the small detached pieces were reincorporated with an archival glue.

Before and After

Grand Haven Plat Map

This Plat Map detailing Grand Haven suffers from numerous creases due to folding, non-archival tape, and widespread acid stains due to the particle board it had been placed on and how it concentrated the sun exposure. This map is 45″ x 58 1/4.”

After carefully removing the tape we’ll support it underneath with a screen while we carefully dip it. This will treat the stains. It will then go through a series of blotter applications to absorb the contaminates and return its shape to plane. New paper of the same quality will be added where losses have occurred. A backing will be given to provide support.

Once complete this map will go on display at the Tri-State Historical Museum, and a facsimile will travel the local school systems as a teaching aid.

ALBRECHT DURER WOODCUT OF SAMSON RENDING THE LION FINISHED

Part 1

After water baths and a treatment in the heat press, this woodcut by Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) was dried with blotters, a lengthy process that took several months. This allowed the paper to carefully stretch back to its original size, a critical step for repairing the middle section where the tear had occurred and left incongruous edges. But, once the paper was back to size, these edges had good alignment, and this helped create a seamless rejoining.

Where paper losses had occurred, new paper was added with similar qualities. In-painting concealed the areas of loss.

A new Austrian/German frame in dark mahogany was prepared, and the print covered with museum glass, a premium type of glass that is exception with delicate images as well as causing minimal to no glare.

To authenticate the print, we compared known Durer woodcuts at the Snite Museum of Art at Notre Dame as well as the Grand Rapids Art Museum. We found the watermarks to corroborate with ours, and thus, verified it as an authentic Durer woodcut that was made during his lifetime.

Albrecht Durer was born in Nuremberg, Germany on May 21, 1471, the second of eighteen children in the family of a master goldsmith. Fifteen of the children died at an early age and Durer’s mother was often sick, especially in the last years of her life. Although his father was not pleased with his artistic ambitions, at the age of fifteen, Durer was apprenticed to a painter.

Durer is arguable the greatest artist in German history. By adopting the new forms of the Italian quattrocento and connecting them to the already robust tradition of the German print, he almost single-handedly provoked the Northern Renaissance. He had an insatiably inquisitive mind and this led him to be an avid travel, which he started in 1490 before he was nineteen. Up to this time he had spent a four year apprenticeship with master painter and engraver, Michael Wolgemut. He then went to Colmar, France to work under Martin Schongauer, but it took him two years to reach Colmar, and by then Schongauer was dead. His wanderings across Europe included two trips to Venice that were capped  by a year-long sojourn in The Netherlands, where he was a celebrity among celebrities.

In moving from Nuremberg to Venice, Durer reversed a whole direction of cultural priorities. The center to which German artists had previously looked were Bruges and Ghent in Flanders, along with the northern Gothic style shaped there by artists like the Van Eycks and Hugo van der Goes. What fascinated Durer was Italian humanism and all that flowed from the discovery of classical antiquity.

Durer married Agnes Frey in 1494, and in the same year made his first visit to Venice. He would return there in 1505 and stay for two years. Meanwhile he built a great house which still stands on the castle hill in Nuremberg. Durer was a rather indifferent and rude husbands. On his own he took his wife’s dowry and setup a graphics workshop, the products of which his wife was tasked with sitting at the markets and fairs and trying to sell them. He seldom traveled with her and many years later, when he did take her on a trip to the Netherlands, he allowed her to accompany him to only one of the many banquets given in his honor. When they did stay at home, she was left upstairs to eat with the maid.

The success of Durer’s work led the way for other German artists, Matthias Grunewald, Albrecht Altdorfer, Hans Holbein the Younger and Martin Luther’s great friend, Lucas Cranach, all of whose work made Germany for half a century the leader of the Northern Renaissance.

Beatrice Emma Parsons Watercolor Print Garden Landscape

This watercolor print of a classic perennial English garden by Beatrice Emma Parsons (1870-1955) suffered from acid stains, water damage, and loss near the signature. Chemistries were combined to treat the acid stains and the dirt particulates that were over the surface. In-painting concealed the water damage and repaired the lost areas. For the frame, new UV-filtering glass, fillets, and a back-up were given to allow the print to sit free of the glass.

Beatrice Parsons was an exceptional English garden painter. She studied at the Royal Academy Schools and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1889-99, but didn’t begin to paint floral/garden scenes until about 1900. Thereafter, her main body of work was in the painting of garden scenes, primarily English but also abroad. She exhibited extensively in Dowdeswell and the Greatorex Galleries, illustrated several garden books, including the Gardens of England (1908) and The Charm of Gardens (1910) and some of her works feature in the Royal Collection.