Surrey Watercolor

This watercolor had been on a mat that transferred acids to the paper and caused staining. Chemistry baths neutralized these stains, and after plenty of careful scraping we were able to remove the mat. There was some discoloration below the central trees that in-painting was able to restore. Acid-free, double mats then dressed up the painting and UV-filtering added protection. It was then re-fit inside the client’s frame.

We had hoped to discover the artist’s identity, but we were unable to do so. The only notation given by the artist was North Reigate, Surrey, which is a rather charming county south of London, but unfortunately none our cleaning efforts revealed a signature.

 

Glackens pen and ink with American Whistler Frame

This pen and ink drawing by William James Glackens (1870 – 1938) suffered from acid stains, due to the mount it was on, and a covering of dirt particulates. Once removed from the mount, baths of select chemistry were able to lift the stains, returning a clearer complexion to the drawing. Blotters were used to dry the artwork, as well as square the dimensionality of the paper and lay it flat.

Its new frame is a custom American Whistler with white gold, over yellow, red and black clay, which we think looks rather stunning with the drawing, and should keep the Sherwood Sisters happy and dancing for quite some time.

William James Glackens graduated from Philadelphia’s Central High School with John Sloan, and in 1891 became an artist-reporter for the “Philadelphia Record.” From 1892 to 1895 he held the same position for the “Philadelphia Press”. He studied with Thomas Anshutz at the Pennsylvania Academy where he formed a strong friendship with John Sloan, George Luks, Everett Shinn and Robert Henri; later he shared a studio and traveled in Europe with Henri. He spent a year in Paris where he painted many scenes of life in the parks and cafes.

Glackens settled in New York, worked as an illustrator, and in 1898, went to Cuba as an artist-reporter for “McClure’s” magazine of the Spanish-American War. He became part of “The Eight,” a landmark exhibition of urban realists, led by Henri, at the Macbeth Galleries.

The early work of Glackens followed Henri’s lead and maintained “strong ties to Edouard Manet’s darkened palette and brushy style of realism.” After 1910, Glacken began to brighten in response to his strong admiration of the work of French artist, Pierre August Renoir.

In 1912, he went on an extensive art-buying trip in Europe for Albert Barnes, a friend from high school who had amassed a fortune from an antiseptic gargle solution. Barnes built a huge home and museum in Merion, a suburb of Philadelphia, and established the Barnes Museum. The many works of Renoir, Degas, Van Gogh and Cezanne that Glackens purchased for Barnes became the center of the Museum collection. This project also firmed Glackens’ interest in the Impressionists, especially Renoir.

He died suddenly in 1938 while visiting Charles Prendergast in Westport, Connecticut.

 

William Hogarth Intaglios

These six intaglios from William Hogarth (1697 – 1764) came in with a fair amount of damage, primarily staining, but we did notice some old paper in-fill that is of poor quality. Also, being quite old, these intaglios have accumulated a fair amount of dirt particulates. Main restoration efforts will entail de-acidification, critical for the health of any work on paper, and then reversing the old paper in-fill with new paper that matches the original. The are some oil stains that we’ll negate with select chemistries. The intaglio in the worst condition has suffered some losses of the ink, but we’ll be able to touch that up. All works will be carefully cleaned. Stay tuned for more…

William Hogarth FRSA (Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts) was an English painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic, and editorial cartoonist. Works by him ranged from realistic portraiture, to comic strip-like series of pictures called “modern moral subjects,” with the best known being his moral series: A Harlot’s Progress, A Rake’s Progress and Marriage A-la-Mode. His influence is so great that satirical political illustrations in this style are often referred to as “Hogarthian.”

He was born in Bartholomew Close, near Smithfield Market, London, on 19 November 1697, the eldest surviving of the nine children of Richard Hogarth and Anne Gibbons. His father opened a coffeehouse when William was five, but it failed and his father was confined for debt. Hogarth lived with his family, from 1708 to 1712, within the jurisdiction of the Fleet prison, an experience he never forgot. Unable to aspire to anything higher, he was apprenticed in 1713 or 1714 to Ellis Gamble, a silver engraver. In 1720 he set up on his own as a print engraver, operating from home, and was an original subscriber to the academy of St. Martin’s Lane founded by Louis Chéron and John Vanderbank.

Hogarth published his first satirical print in 1721, and his first major series in 1726. He began painting in about 1726 and achieved a rapid success, executing small genre and comic scenes, several versions of an episode from The Beggar’s Opera, and conversation pieces, some with interior and others with outdoor settings. In 1729 he eloped with Jane Thornhill, the daughter of the eminent history painter Sir James Thornhill. The couple, forgiven, were allowed to move into Thornhill’s house in the Great Piazza, Covent Garden, in 1731, but two years later they moved to Golden Head, Leicester Fields, where Hogarth remained for the rest of his life.

In 1730 Hogarth painted his first series of “modern moral Subject[s],” launching a subscription for engravings the following year; he was characteristically original in dispensing with both engraver and printseller, performing these functions himself. As a result of piracies of his engravings Hogarth instigated an Engraver’s Copyright Act, delaying the publication of his second great moral series, A Rake’s Progress, until the act became law in 1735. By this time, however, the Rake had already been pirated. Also in 1735 he founded the better known St. Martin’s Lane Academy, where by all accounts he was an inspiring teacher; the academy quickly became the focus of avant-garde rococo art in Britain.

To forestall the commission’s going to a foreigner, Giacomo Amiconi, Hogarth offered to paint without payment two large murals over the staircase of Saint Bartholomew’s Hospital; he completed these in 1737. Enraged at the success of Jean-Baptiste Van Loo, another foreigner who had established himself in London in 1737, Hogarth turned to portraiture, and in 1740 presented his deliberately informal full-length of Captain Coram to the Foundling Hospital, of which he was a founding governor. With the idea of creating a permanent exhibition where fashionable patrons could admire the best in contemporary British painting, he coordinated the donation by artists of paintings that would hang in the Foundling Hospital offices; the newly decorated Court Room was unveiled in 1747. He also promoted the pictorial decoration at Vauxhall Gardens, the most popular of London’s many pleasure gardens, which was owned by a friend of his.

In 1743 Hogarth traveled to Paris to hire engravers for Marriage à la Mode, published in 1745. The twelve plates of Industry and Idleness, cheap engravings intended for a wide public, for which no paintings were produced, followed in 1747. The artist made a second trip to Paris in 1748 and was expelled from Calais, having been accused of spying. The following year he bought a country house in Chiswick (now a Hogarth museum). He remained active during the 1750s, and in 1757 was appointed Serjeant Painter to the King. He resented Sir Richard Grosvenor’s refusal to purchase Sigismunda, which in effect he had commissioned, and became increasingly embittered, a prey to persecution mania. He was ill for a whole year between 1760 and 1761. Although he contributed seven pictures to the Society of Artists exhibition in 1761, his health was in decline, and he died in Leicester Fields on 25 October 1764.

Barbie Palooza

1960s era Barbie Dream House, new and original, University, and School Bus that unfolds into a classroom, with a slew of loose furniture have occupied our work tables recently. There is enough square footage in the collection to start a small community, or maybe to add to a young girl’s dream, or perhaps for an older one to reminisce about the good old days. The condition of the pieces vary but are overall, considering the age of them, in rather good shape. Our principal effort is to clean and improve the surface of these rather intricate pieces of nostalgia.

Charles Dwyer Portrait of Girl with Custom Frame

This pastel and watercolor came in troubled by a few acid stains and loose pastel. A seal was applied to keep the pastel from moving, and chemistry baths neutralized the stains. Further protection was given by an archival mount and by incorporating oversized conservation glass. The frame is a custom Modernist Dutch with 12 karat white gold.

Born in West Bend, WI, in 1961, Charles Dwyer discovered his artistic leanings at West Bend East High School. Later he received a scholarship from the West Bend Art Museum and then went on to major in Fine Art at the Milwaukee School of Art and Design. He graduated as Valedictorian.

Directly after college, his work was featured in a one-man exhibition. With money saved from the show, he backpacked with friends through Italy, Austria, Germany and Greece. Dwyer recalls being most impacted in Vienna where the Austrian artists and the moodiness brought on by frequent rain moved him. To this day, the overwhelming beauty of Europe remains an underlying inspiration.

After his European sojourn, Dwyer pursued painting, conservation and restoration work in the Wisconsin. “This job was pretty influential in introducing me to all sorts of imagery and media like the spiritual, astrological, and classical.” explains Dwyer. “I did a lot of mural restoration, trompe l’oeil, marbleizing, and mosaic. This was one of the few jobs you could get and really apply your artwork skills to.”

Commissioned to create the official poster for Chicago’s ARTEXPO ’93, Dwyer has continued to experiment and push the borders of art making, most recently reinterpreting the techniques of printmaking and photography. His spectacular, original works on paper and canvas, which incorporate such diverse techniques as oil paint, pastel, collage, and fabrics, make Dwyer one of the most important living American artists of our time.

A Pair of Watercolors: Loria and Lewis

This watercolor by Vincenzo Loria (1850-1939) suffered from acid burns caused by the mount it was on. These burns gave a orange color to the artwork. Furthermore, the mount had been adhered with a glue that leached onto the edges of the painting, which caused areas of loss. On the back, non-archival tape was used, and on the front dirt particulates had found their way onto the surface.

Chemistry baths neutralized the acids that were then pulled from the paper with blotters. This also cleaned the paper. The glue along the edges was removed and then in-painting concealed the areas of loss.

Vincenzo Loria was born in Salerno, Italy, and went to Naples to study under Domenico Morelli. He exhibited at Turin, Milan, Venice, and Naples. While he did do a few oil paintings, he is most known for watercolors.

This watercolor by Edmund Darch Lewis (1835-1910) suffered from being applied to a mount that contained acids. These acids migrated to the paper and through an interaction caused stains. Chemistry baths neutralized them, and the delicate task of removing the mount was also handled as this time. The pigment losses, most prevalent along the edges, were likely due to water damage stemming from a flood. These areas were in-painted, and then the watercolor was mounted on a cotton rag museum board.

Edmund Darch Lewis was born in Philadelphia. At age fifteen, he studied under Paul Weber. His initial works were landscapes and marine views. He had the good fortune of his artwork being in high demand even at the beginning of his career. Philadelphia, Cuba, and the New England were the major focus of his early career. He transitioned to Cape May, New Jersey, and Narragansett, Rhode Island. He frequently depicted schooners drifting in calm waters, churning mills, and hidden cottages. Lewis favored watercolor, but also used oils and gouache.

Due to his financial success in painting, he amassed a large and diverse collection of artworks. It included a throne that belonged to Napoleon I, a set of drawing room furniture from the Borghese Palace in Rome, and the original sketch for Alexandre Cabanel’s Birth of Venus. His mansion in Philadelphia consisted of two connecting houses and additional annexes that were filled with period furniture, china, and decorative arts. Lewis entertained in a grand style, hosting a number of exhibitions and events in his opulent home.

Lewis exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1854-69) and was elected an associate of the Academy in 1859. He also showed at the National Academy of Design in New York (1860), the Boston Athenaeum (1858-69), and the Brooklyn Art Association (1862-70).

Albrecht Durer Woodcut of Samson Rending the Lion

This woodcut print by Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) is one of the older works to have come into the studio. But considering its age, the work is in fairly good shape. Along the left there are some rust stains. The top region has a number of holes courtesy a few hungry insects. General brown discoloration is due to acid stains. And the paper was split in the middle.

A water bath was used to help coax the print from its mount, which was a very delicate process. Fortunately, both the print and the backing were of good paper quality, and the adhesive that had been used appears to have been either rice paste or wheat paste. Both are conservation friendly as they’re pH neutral, non-acidic, and are reversible in water.

A second water bath was used to help lift the acid stains even more. Rice paper was used like a barge to give greater control over the submersion, and to support the print when it needed to be lifted from the water. The heat press helps dry and flatten the print.

The Met has the original woodcut for Samson Rending the Lion and they have a wonderful writeup: “Dürer elevated the medium of woodcut to an unprecedented level of technical virtuosity. In Samson Rending the Lion, he achieved striking pictorial effects that vie with those created in contemporary engravings. Remarkable gradations of tone were realized in the lion’s mane—all the more amazing if one considers that each tapered black line in the print was formed in the woodblock by chipping away the wood on either side of the intended line. Such expert and self-assured handling is particularly characteristic of Dürer’s early woodcuts, dating to the 1490s. A print engraved about twenty years earlier by Israel van Meckenem served as the source for Dürer’s powerful depiction of the Old Testament hero who, “suddenly seized” by the spirit of God, “tore the lion to pieces as if it were a kid” (Judges 14:6). The weaponless Samson is here shown on the lion’s back, one foot pressed into its neck as he forces open its mouth.”

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.

 

Photograph of Mrs. Dean

This photograph of a Grand Rapids resident, Mrs. Dean, had been stored in the attic of her home. After the home changed hands, the new homeowners discovered this photograph, fell in love with it, and brought it in for restoration.

The photograph’s composition was very dry, the result of no AC in the attic, and there were surface contaminates across the front, the painting and frame had actually been under soot. Despite this situation, the photograph was in remarkable shape.

Micro-vacuuming and a feather duster cleaned the photograph surface and removed the dry particles. About half of the frame’s ornamentation had been lost, and the remaining half was very dry and close to falling off. With casts and molds, the lost ornamentation was replaced. Clays and gilding resurfaced the entire frame and dirty shellac was added to match the old and the new. The original, antique glass was conserved.

TALLMADGE AND WATSON ARCHITECT SKETCH FINISHED

This first edition sketch by Tallmadge and Watson Architects of the Saugatuck Woman’s Club is ready to be returned. Chemistry baths lifted the stains that came from acid contamination, of which there was quite a bit. Besides the stains, there was widespread mold invasion. Another round of chemistry baths neutralized these. Careful cleaning across the surface removed dirt contaminates and returned a clarity to the image.

The frame is original, and what’s typical of this period, for architect sketches, is to use a gilded, natural-wood frame. After cleaning, we saw that in the recesses, the frame did at one time have this aesthetic. Once cleaning was complete, we returned this finish in the period standard. To finish, UV-filtering glass was added to help protect this lovely piece of local history that we were very grateful to be able to work on.

In 1905 Thomas Tallmadge decided to start his own architectural firm with draftsman Vernon S. Watson. Although Watson was the chief designer, Tallmadge became the face of the firm due to his commitment as a historian and teacher. He taught at the Armour Institute of Technology from 1906 to 1926. Tallmadge is credited for coining the term “Chicago school” in an article for Architectural Review to describe the recent trends in architecture pioneered by Burnham, Louis Sullivan, and others. Tallmadge took sole control over the firm after Watson retired in 1936. They were best known for their Prairie School works.

Marriage Certificate Renewal

We believe, like many documents of the early 1900s, this marriage certificate was probably rolled up and placed in a tube for safekeeping. Some time later, when it was taken out, in a likely low humidity environment, the unrolling was enough to crack the paper in several places. At that time Scotch tape was used to repair it, and the problem there is that Scotch tape is laden with acidic compounds, particularly old Scotch tape. Around the perimeter you can notice a darker color. This was likely caused by a previous frame that it might have been in and the discoloration would have come from the acidic components in the frame. Further color distortion can be see in the rest of the document: the widespread lightened tones are due to sun shock.

Careful scalpel work and chemical softeners removed the Scotch tape residue. With several rounds of chemical baths we were able to treat the acid staining. Next we in-filled with paper of a similar condition, and gave it a new backing to help flatten it.Along the cracks, in-painting concealed the lost areas, and the faded writing was touched-up to return its original strength and weight.