Artist and Hope College professor, Steve Nelson, took this photograph in the UP of an abandoned iron quarry; this is a larger work with a frame size of 52″ x 43 1/2.” Gelatin silver prints are a general term describing the most common process for making black and white photographs since the 1890s. A variety of photographic print papers were introduced in the 1880s. It can be thought of as an in-the-camera technique that complements the wet plate process. The custom frame we made and designed with the artist is a Modern Gallery L-shaped frame with white gold, and includes a top mat but also a hidden reverse cut mat to give the illusion that it floats.
This is an Audubon that was published in 1836 Habell, printed and hand-colored. And as you can see by the photographs, it is in really rough shape. A specially targeted water bath in our new studio helped to lift glue and old scotch tape that probably predates the 1930s. Still work to be done but we love the new larger space and the ease with which we can handle these larger works.
This 17th Century drawing was probably intended to be a study for a shaped, final painting. The workmanship is superb, and shows great ability, but unfortunately the paper has not been handled with the greatest care. It is handmade paper laid with linen content, which is typical for early Italian sheets. The types of damage are numerous: water and ink damage, a fold down the center, pinholes where the artist likely secured the paper, insect invasion, deterioration, and asphaltum. The first step will be to clean and de-acidify the drawing. The asphaltum is on the reverse, and this will need to be carefully removed. For the areas of loss, caused by insects, chemicals, and aging, these will be replaced with paper consistent to the original. We are in the process of designing a frame, and are leaning towards an Italian style with a feather sgraffito.
On the left and right edge, there are stamps that appear to be household stamps that would have belonged to a wealthy Italian family and would have helped them to document their family items.
With a French mat prepared in the handmade manner: attaching watercolor paper to museum board and then with a ruling pen, creating lines and panels, and with watercolor washes incorporating color tones connected with the art, we gave this George Catlin (1796-1872) print an archival fit. A new American Impressionist frame with feather and ripple carving, gilded in 22 Karat gold, was created to complete the conservation of this magnificent print. We are very happy with the results, taking the artwork from a state of discolored foxing and staining, to accenting its qualities with a French Mat, and then making it the centerpiece of a grand and ornate, gilded frame.
This silkscreen print by Andy Warhol (1928-1987) suffers from an introduction of acid-based elements that have led to staining. In the top-right portion of the paper we discovered a break, and ripples have formed in the paper, caused by the mechanism used to hinge the artwork. We are very excited to work on such an iconic piece of American Art, and can’t help but notice the serendipitous timing, with the Oscars happening over the weekend.
“Warhol chose the source image for this painting of actress Elizabeth Taylor from a publicity photograph of her 1960 film, Butterfield 8. He created this portrait when Taylor was at the height of stardom, but was also very ill with pneumonia. Warhol remembered: “I started those [pictures of Elizabeth Taylor] a long time ago, when she was so sick and everyone said she was going to die. Now I’m doing them all over, putting bright colors on her lips and eyes.” Art historian Robert Rosenblum reflects on Warhol’s artistry both of technique and of selection: “the contradictory fusion of the commonplace facts of photography and the artful fictions of a painter’s retouchings was one that, in Warhol’s work, became a particularly suitable formula for the recording of those wealthy and glamorous people whose faces seem perpetually illuminated by the afterimage of a flash-bulb.” Source: warhol.org
A Misty Night had been placed on a mount with a thick amount of adhesive paste. Over time, the glue had discolored and cracked. The first step was to remove the gouache from the acidic mount. Through a lengthy soak with targeted chemistry, we were able to soften the adhesive enough so that we could very carefully remove it with our fingers and a sponge. To neutralize the acids we used another chemical bath to deacidify the gouache. Blotters were then used to flatten and dry the artwork. This also drew-out the discoloration that we were able to correct with in-painting, matching the colors to original, and thus complete the restoration.
James Gozzard (1888 – 1950) was born in Lichfield, Staffordshire, and is known as a painter and illustrator in both oil and watercolor, principally of landscapes of the English countryside. He usually signed his work “J W Gozzard,” his middle name being Walter.
He became a prolific illustrator and his work was reproduced in a variety of formats, including postcards and art prints by Rosenstiels. Many of his paintings were published as prints, both in black-and-white and in color, particularly in the years up until the First World War.
Gozzard also painted under the pseudonym “F Arnold,” and the career he established as a published artist brought him some considerable success, partly as a result of his very precise and careful style, which made his work suitable for publishing in the days before advanced machinery and technology made almost any kind of reproduction possible.
Gozzards name today survives principally on the strength of his rural landscapes and moonlit scenes. He died in 1950.
This wonderful etching from Eduard Manet (1832 – 1883) Man with Jug (Le Buveur d’Eau ou la Regalade) has a few issues going on with it. As is often the case with older works, harmful masking tape was used to adhere it. In this case the damage is more than usual. Around the mat window masking tape was also used, in addition to the usual portions along the outer edges. There is a considerable amount of acid damage in varying stages, which was accelerated by sun damage. Due to the mats used–there were three–different portions of the etching were subject to different amounts of light. Direct sunlight acted as a catalyst for the acid compounds to burn the paper. The good news is that we think the paper is an early Rives paper, which is a French paper and of very good quality, but is laid and linen. The quality should help the condition of the paper rebound once we treat for acid damage.
To fit the etching into the original frame the bottom of the paper was folded. This left a crease and a severe amount of burning. Though the damage could be beyond our control, we will make every effort to save this area. Stay tuned for more . . .
A French painter, Edouard Manet was one of the first nineteenth century artists to approach modern-life subjects, and is considered to have been a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism.
In 1850 after serving in the merchant marines, Manet entered the studio of Thomas Couture, studying until 1856. The Old Masters influenced him, particularly Velazquez and Goya.
Throughout his oeuvre Manet painted modern day life, yet many of his paintings have deeper elements than their initial impressions of simple and realistic. His work seems to mimic the contradictions and lack of perspective of himself and Paris during his working career. Always controversial, Manet sought to record the days of his life using his own unique vision. From beggars, to prostitutes, to the bourgeoisie he sought to be true to himself and to reproduce “not great art, but sincere art.”
Edouard Manet died in Paris on April 30, 1883.
This ink drawing by William James Glackens (1870 – 1938), Four Boys Walking A Dog, suffers from stains, acid components, and a nasty crease along that middle that was deep enough to start to tear in a couple places. A few of the stains were caused by mineral deposits in the paper itself, which can happen with older paper.
Chemical baths treated the stains and the acid components. From a previous restoration a couple strips of stock restorer’s adhesive were used to suture the crease. These will be replaced with a more refined material. Stay tuned for more . . .
William James Glackens (1870 – 1938) 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.
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 . . .
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.”