Category: Conservation

The Picture Gallery of Cornelis van der Geest Restored

September 9 2021

Image of The Picture Gallery of Cornelis van der Geest Restored

Picture: Rubenshuis

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

CODART have published an article on the recent restoration of the Rubenshuis's The Picture Gallery of Cornelis van der Geest by Willem van Haecht (II). Although the picture was last restored in 2009, the unstable panel had resulted in distracting cracks appearing along the paint surface. The work was restored by the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA) in Brussels.

The article also pays tribute to the outgoing Rubenshuis Director, Ben van Beneden, who has been in the position since 2010.

The article lists a brief selection of van Beneden's achievements in the role:

Together with his team, he developed several international exhibitions, including Rooms full of Art, Palazzo Rubens, and Rubens in private. His main priority, however, was the upgrade and enrichment of the collection and the artist’s residence. He drew attention to the urgent need for the restoration of the portico and garden pavilion – the original elements of the house, which were designed by Rubens himself. After several years of preparation, the project was successfully completed in 2019. The restoration and the protective glass butterfly awning met with international praise and appreciation. Van Beneden applied this same precision and boldness to the art collection, paving the way for the restoration of Rubens’s Self-Portrait, among others.

Rembrandthuis Restore a Ferdinand Bol

September 9 2021

Image of Rembrandthuis Restore a Ferdinand Bol

Picture: Rembrandthuis

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Rembrandthuis in Amsterdam have published a blog on the recent conservation of Elisa refuses Naeman's gifts by Ferdinand Bol. The piece explains the painting's history, as it was commissioned for the Amsterdam Leprozenhuis, alongside the iconography and the findings made during the treatment.

In particular, the conservation of the work has revealed quite a few pentimenti which show the small various changes Bol made while producing the painting.

Restorers in Art Crime

September 7 2021

Image of Restorers in Art Crime

Picture: TAN

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Art Newspaper have published an interesting short article on the role of restorers in art crime.

According to the piece:

“Without restorers to disguise stolen relics, there would be no laundered items for antiquities traffickers to sell,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance. “Behind every antiquities trafficking ring preying upon cultural heritage for profit, there is someone reassembling and restoring these looted pieces to lend the criminal enterprise a veneer of legitimacy.”

Callisto Piazza da Lodi Altarpiece Restored

September 7 2021

Image of Callisto Piazza da Lodi Altarpiece Restored


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A reader has kindly alerted me to news that an altarpiece by Callisto Piazza da Lodi (1523-1561) has been restored. The mid-sixteenth-century painting depicting the Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin was reportedly purchased from Sotheby's and will be heading back to Lugano, Switzerland, where the painting was kept until it was sold in c.1700. The conservation of the picture was undertaken in London.

TEFAF Funds Restoration of Manet Portrait

September 6 2021

Image of TEFAF Funds Restoration of Manet Portrait

Picture: National Museum Wales

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Apologies, I missed this story the other week. The National Museum Wales has completed the restoration of Portrait de Monsieur Jules Dejouy by Édouard Manet. The painting, which dates to 1879, was acquired by the museum in 2019 through the acceptance in lieu scheme. Conservation was paid for through funds donated by The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF) Museum Restoration Fund as well as help from the Friends of the Museum and The Finnis Scott Foundation.

Burlington Article Reveals Jacques-Louis David Secrets

September 6 2021

Image of Burlington Article Reveals Jacques-Louis David Secrets

Picture: MET

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

September's edition of The Burlington Magazine contains a fascinating article on recent discoveries made on Jacques-Louis David's 1788 Portrait of Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (1743–1794) and Marie- Anne Lavoisier (Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze, 1758– 1836). This study was undertaken by staff at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Vast technical analysis has shown the many changes were undertaken during its early history. This included the removal of a fancy hat, now missing of course, and the fact that their scientific instruments were a later addition. It is believed that these alterations were made to try and distance the sitters from looking too much like tax-collectors, a profession which ultimately led Lavoisier to the guillotine in 1794.

Coustou Sculptures Restored

September 2 2021

Image of Coustou Sculptures Restored


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from France that two sculptures representing allegories of the Rhône and the Saône by Nicolas and Guillaume Coustou have been restored. The large early eighteenth century bronzes had originally adorned a statue of Louis XIV at the Place Bellecour in Lyon. Their restoration has taken place in the Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon where they will be displayed at the foot of a staircase.

Refurbished Rooms in Venice's Gallerie dell'Accademia

September 1 2021

Image of Refurbished Rooms in Venice's Gallerie dell'Accademia


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice has recently reopened a set of newly refurbished rooms which house their collection of seventeenth and eighteenth century paintings. The new Selva-Lazzari rooms contain 63 works with many having been recently restored for the occasion.

One of the most significant restored works include Tiepolo's 13-meter-long painting Punishment of Snakes (pictured).

Restoring Van Gogh's Olive Trees

August 30 2021

Image of Restoring Van Gogh's Olive Trees


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz: have published an interesting article on the recent restoration of Van Gogh's The Olive Trees in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The campaign coincided with the painting's loan to an upcoming exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art on the artist's olive grove series.

Dendrochronology via CT Scanning

August 30 2021

Image of Dendrochronology via CT Scanning

Picture: Rijksmuseum & PLoS ONE

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

For those of you who like the more technical side of art historical research, the Science Journal PLoS ONE have published a fascinating article (free to read online) on the use CT scans to date wooden panels. Dendrochronology uses tree rings, compared against vast databases of historic examples, to date wooden panels. This piece combines the research of several scholars headed up by the Department for History of Art at the University of Amsterdam.

Essentially, the paper examines how CT scanners can be used to gather non-invasive information on the age of panels. This is particularly useful when old paintings have been stuck onto other panels in later centuries, often causing all sorts of problems for those wishing to examine such complex structures. In particular, the article examines a Rijksmuseum painting of Cadmus sowing dragon's teeth by Rubens. It seems that Rubens had painted onto a panel made of tropical wood which was later backed by an oak panel, perhaps with 'deceiving intentions' to mask the rarity of the original support.

La Cona dei Lani - Restored & Redisplayed

August 16 2021

Video: Direzione regionale Musei Campania

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Certosa e Museo di San Martino in Naples, Italy, reopened last week to visitors. Amongst their new displays this summer are a set of restored fragments of sixteenth century sculpture known as the Cona dei Lani. These monumental terracotta artworks, originally housed in the city's Sant’Eligio Maggiore church, were badly damaged after bombing during WWII. The video above gives a brief history of the artworks and their new display within the museum.

Restoring Titian's Europa

August 13 2021

Video: Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A reader has very kindly drawn my attention to this very satisfying video providing an account of the recent restoration of Titian's The Rape of Europa in the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum. The removal of thick dirty varnish seems to have been absolutely transformative in this example!

Furthermore, the latest leg of the travelling exhibition Titian: Women, Myth & Power opened yesterday at the museum in Boston. The show will run there until 2nd January 2022.

Update - And here's a review of the exhibiton from The New York Times.

Recent Release: The Renaissance Restored

July 29 2021

Image of Recent Release: The Renaissance Restored

Picture: Getty Publications

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's a recent release that looks like a must-read for those interested in the history of paintings conservation. Getty Publication's new book by Matthew Hayes is entitled The Renaissance Restored - Paintings Conservation and the Birth of Modern Art History in Nineteenth-Century Europe.

According to the blurb:

This handsomely illustrated volume traces the intersections of art history and paintings restoration in nineteenth-century Europe. Repairing works of art and writing about them-the practices that became art conservation and art history-share a common ancestry. By the nineteenth century the two fields had become inseparably linked. While the art historical scholarship of this period has been widely studied, its restoration practices have received less scrutiny-until now. This book charts the intersections between art history and conservation in the treatment of Italian Renaissance paintings in nineteenth-century Europe. Initial chapters discuss the restoration of works by Giotto and Titian, framed by the contemporary scholarship of art historians such as Jacob Burckhardt, G. B. Cavalcaselle, and Joseph Crowe that was redefining the earlier age. Subsequent chapters recount how paintings conservation was integrated into museum settings. The narrative uses period texts, unpublished archival materials, and historical photographs in probing how paintings looked at a time when scholars were writing the foundational texts of art history, and how, simultaneously, contemporary restorers were negotiating the appearances of these works. The book proposes a model for a new conservation history, object focused yet enriched by consideration of a wider cultural horizon.

Lloyd Webber Art Collection on Display in Renovated Theatre Royal

July 23 2021

Image of Lloyd Webber Art Collection on Display in Renovated Theatre Royal


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

An eagle-eyed reader has kindly been in touch with news that Andrew Lloyd Webber has allowed some of his private art collection to be hung inside the newly renovated Theatre Royal on Drury Lane. The theatre, owned by the musicals impresario, has recently undergone a two-year £60m refurbishment and will be opening to the public in due course. Photographs show some of Lloyd Webber's Pre Raphaelite collection hanging in several rooms.

Fortunately, it seems that art and architecture lovers will be able to visit the theatre during the day in due course, which will be an interesting experience I'm sure.

Conserving Wall Paintings by G F Watts

July 23 2021

Video: Leighton House Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Leighton House Museum in West London have published this short video providing some details in regards to the conservation of two wall paintings by George Frederic Watts.

BBC's Repair Shop Conserves Henrietta Maria (?)

July 22 2021

Image of BBC's Repair Shop Conserves Henrietta Maria (?)

Picture: BBC

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The BBC's popular tv show The Repair Shop continues to delve into the world of restoring Old Master Paintings.

This week's episode, available on IPlayer, saw the transformation of a portrait of Charles I's Queen Henrietta Maria in mourning. The removal of overpaint and the conservation process in general revealed that many of the features of mourning were later additions, a practise often done with portraits of historic figures.

Overall, the quality of the portrait looks rather handsome. At a glance, it seems to have been executed by a capable hand, from what I can tell from my small screen anyway. Furthermore, the work seems to be loosely based on a Van Dyck prototype (a painting last recorded in the collection of the Earls of Radnor), although the differences between the two would encourage me question the identity perhaps.

Update - Bendor, whose opinion on these things is of much greater value, has written in with the suggestion that it might be a much later seventeenth or early eighteenth-century work based on the aforementioned Van Dyck.

Audley End Painting Cleaned

July 16 2021

Image of Audley End Painting Cleaned

Picture: The Guardian

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Guardian have reported on news that a painting in Audley End in Essex, run by English Heritage, has been conserved and redisplayed (pictured in its restored state). The media seems to have led the story with news that the removal of overpaint has in fact removed the smile from the young lady's face:

The transformation of the picture rather impressive, especially as layers of overpaint and an upper extension to the canvas have been removed. The vibrant greens, a colour which usually doesn't survive that well over the centuries, are glorious. Furthermore, a new attribution to Joachim Beuckelaer has also been suggested now that the original paint surface has re-emerged.

Graphene to Protect Paintings from Fading?

July 15 2021

Image of Graphene to Protect Paintings from Fading?


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's an interesting article on a study made by the Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas in Greece on the use of Graphene to protect old paintings from light damage. Reports suggest that using a thin 'invisible' layer of the material will help protect sensitive historic pigments.

According to the article:

A graphene veil can prevent up to 70% of colour fading, the researchers behind the work suggest. While the exact amount of protection depends on the colours and the pigment substrate, ‘this corresponds approximately to 200 years of exposure under the conditions encountered in museums or other exhibition environments’, says study leader Costas Galiotis of the Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas in Greece. 

‘Graphene absorbs a considerable amount of ultraviolet light, depending on the number of layers, and is a very good barrier against oxygen and moisture,’ Galiotis explains. ‘It prevents colour fading by simultaneously reducing the incident harmful radiation and by delaying the diffusion of oxidising agents.’

Naturally, it is perhaps a good idea that more widespread tests are done on a variety of different painted surfaces before this becomes adopted by the conservation community. It will be interesting to see if anything comes of it!

Too Fragile to Travel (?)

July 15 2021

Image of Too Fragile to Travel (?)


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Apologies, I seemed to have missed this rather fascinating article published by the Los Angeles Times last week.

The newspaper have run a story on the fact that a panel of nine American and European conservators 'strongly recommends against lending ‘The Blue Boy’” to the aforementioned London exhibition in 2022. The Huntington Museum, who appointed the panel of experts to advise them, seems to have overridden the recommendation of the conservators assembled. Frustratingly, no exact reasons seem to have been disclosed, however, it seems that intervening conservation treatment seems to have caused some contention as to the suitability of the loan.

In case you're wondering who was on the panel, the article listed the following experts:

Among the group was Michael Gallagher, conservation head at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art; Rica Jones, a Gainsborough specialist who is retired conservator at Tate Britain, the national collection of British art housed in London on the banks of the Thames; Mark Aronson from the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven; and Mikkel Scharff, head of the Institute of Conservation at the Royal Danish Academy in Copenhagen.

'Redecoration' of Eighteenth-Century Church in Italy causes Outrage

July 13 2021

Image of 'Redecoration' of Eighteenth-Century Church in Italy causes Outrage


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The 'redecoration' of the eighteenth-century Chiesa di San Gennaro in Naples has caused public outrage in Italy. The now-redundant church, built in 1745, was redecorated by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava in a blue theme dedicated to the 'Light of Naples' and features a new stained-glass window and ceramics on the ceiling imitating stars. Critics in Italy have likened the newly decorated interior to a "an autogrill bathroom, McDonald's toilet, aquarium, waiting room of a dentist in Dubai, luxury boutique of a shopping centre..." and many other insults. In defence of attacks from conservation groups, supporters of the architect's work have said that the new scheme is not a restoration but a 're-treatment' and is naturally reversible.

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