Friday, January 15, 2010

Russian Royalty - Smuggled Out

Some of the most interesting art stories that I hear are the tales of smuggling artwork out of German or Russian occuppied territories. Who knows if they are true when you hear them. But a pair of turn of the century portraits came in the lab a couple of days ago that look like the real deal.

These two portraits were smuggled out of Russia about the time Stalin's Rule of Terror began. In fact, on her chest there are three rips that the owner swears are bayonet slices! Thing is, once they were cut out of their frames, rolled up like newspapers and smuggled out, they were left that way until two days ago! Actually, the current owner has unrolled them many times to look at them. In fact, through the owner's rough handling the painting ripped or broke apart! That is something that could have been avoided.

Note for your own benefit that the rolling up of paintings is very counter-productive to the preservation of the paint. Its understandable that if you're escaping a country with very few belongings and your life, that rolling up a painting is not a big concern. But otherwise, the technique used by Sean Connery in Entrapment (1999) will only destroy your artwork (and provide guys like me with job security).

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