Alice L. Williams Watercolor Repairs

Once we carefully removed this Alice L. Williams (mid 20th century) watercolor from its mount we discovered a pair of significant tears. To the reverse we added new paper, of a similar composition, and then in-painted on the front. These tears had not been visible while the watercolor was on its mount, which offers some explanation as to why it was used. We’ve replaced it with a museum rag mount that will not introduce acid contamination like its predecessor. The watercolor also underwent chemistries baths, to remove acids and molds, and was then blotted dry. Special thanks to Sarah Harris of The Nines who will frame this work for the Ox-Bow Summer Benefit, that takes place on Saturday, July 7.

Alice L. Williams was a member of Ox-Bow, having followed her mother’s footsteps, Olive, who built the Mary K cottage at Ox-bow in the 1920s. The local legend is that this cottage has a reputation for ghosts, missing tools, moved equipment, and flickering lights.

Hobbe Smith Watercolor

This charming and exquisite watercolor came in with extreme acid burns. With the help of Dr. Jacob E. Nyenhuis we were able to identity the signature as Hobbe Smith (1862-1942). After careful removal from the mat and taping, a targeted chemistry baths lifted the acid stains. The watercolor was then allowed to dry flat which returned a crispness to the paper. The clarity of the cleaning will help us determine the style and color for a new frame. Stay tuned for more . . .

Hobbe Smith was the son of a house painter. His first formal art instruction came while he was an apprentice to a lithographer and continued as a member of Quellinusschool, an Amsterdam school for sculptors named after the Quellinus family and founded in 1877. Due to a wealthy patron who admired his work, he received a Royal Scholarship and studied at Rijksakadmie with August Allebe, a major promoter of Amsterdam Impressionism, a style Smith would adopt.

He continued his studying at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp with Charles Verlat. His subject matter included nudes, still life, portraits, historical scenes, sea- river- and town-views. In 1888, he won the Willink van Collenprijs, and received international notoriety after an exhibition at the Pulchri Studio in 1902. A gold medal recipient from Queen Wilhelmina in 1917, he was also a member of Arti et Amicitiae and Sint Lucas.

Alice L. Williams Watercolor

This Alice L. Williams (mid 20th century) watercolor came to us in rather rough shape. Extensive foxing has degraded the paper enough to make holes. Also, major acid contamination occurred from the wood pulp board the watercolor was placed on.

Alice L. Williams was a member of Ox-Bow, following in her mother’s footsteps, Olive, who built the Mary K cottage at Ox-bow in the 1920s. The local legend is that this cottage has a bit of a reputation for ghosts, missing tools, moved equipment, and flickering lights.

Restoration began with the careful removal of the watercolor from its mount. Further stages to come will include de-acidification and the mending of the tears. This restoration is in preparation for the Ox-Bow Summer Benefit, that takes place on Saturday, July 7.  

Peter Max Drawing

This black and white Peter Max (1937-) drawing had fungal and acid invasions, staining, and old tape adhered to it, all of which caused discoloration. A series of three chemistry baths treated these issues and helped bring out the brilliant ink lines that can appear simple when done with the hand of someone talented.

Peter Max was born in Berlin but his family moved to China when he was still very young. They lived in a pagoda-style house amidst a Buddhist monastery, a Sikh temple and a Viennese cafe. From American comic books, radio broadcasts and cinema shows, young Max formed an impression of the land of Captain Marvel, Flash Gordon, swing jazz, swashbucklers, freedom and creativity. Ten years later the family made what turned what would turn out to be a slow westerly migration that ended up in the New York City, taking 6 years, and including stops in Nepal, Israel, and Paris.

Max trained at the Art Students League, Pratt Institute, and the School of Visual Arts, all in New York. After closing his design studio in 1964, Peter began creating his characteristic paintings and graphic prints.

As the ’60s progressed, his photo collage style gave way to his “Cosmic ’60s” style, characterized by distinctive line work and bold Fauvistic color combinations. It became his signature style and is said to have developed as a spontaneous creative urge following a meeting with Swami Satchidananda, an Indian Yoga master who taught Max meditation and the spiritual teachings of the East.

His unique symbolism and vibrant color palette have continued to inspire new generations of Americans throughout the decades. He is also a passionate environmentalist and defender of human and animal rights, often dedicating paintings and posters for these noteworthy causes. His decorative designs are on a Boeing 777 Continental, Dale Earnhardt’s #3 Millennium race car, U.S. postage stamps and 235 U.S. border murals. He created two 155-foot murals for the U.S. Pavilion at the Seville World’s Fair in Spain, 12 postage stamps for the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and a 600-foot stage mural for Woodstock 2. He has also painted for five U.S. presidents, as well as the Beatles, Aerosmith, and the Rolling Stones.

After September 11th, 2001 Peter Max began a project by finishing 356 portraits of the firefighters that were lost in the attack. His portraits were then given to the victims’ families. In addition, from a special request from President George W. Bush, he recently created another 356 portraits for a firefighters’ memorial.

He loves to hear amazing facts about the universe and is as fascinated with numbers and mathematics as he is with visual phenomena.

“If I didn’t choose art, I would have become an astronomer. . . I [am] fascinated with the vast distances in space as well as the vast world within the atom.”

Andy Warhol’s Liz Taylor Behind Museum Glass

Iconic Liz Taylor by Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987) is a silk screen print. This type of artwork is known for being difficult to treat acids stains, as the typical treatment is a chemistry submersion, but that would cause the inks to move. Therefore we used a cotton blotter, and gently applied chemistries to the reverse.

A break in the paper on the edge was addressed by introducing new material of a similar composition, and the ripples from the excessive manner in which its was hinged, were taken care of by flattening. The print was then re-fit in its frame with a strainer to improve structural strength, and the glass was upgraded to museum glass, which is known for its see-through quality.

Steve Nelson Gelatin Silver Print

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.

Mallard Duck, Anas Boschas, by Julius Bien.

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.

17th Century Drawing

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.

Catlin Restored and Framed

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.

George Catlin Catching the Wild Horse Cleaning

George Catlin Catching the Wild Horse

Andy Warhol’s Liz Taylor

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