Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lost Russian Masterpiece Re-Discovered - Saved

This photo shows a detail of the painting during cleaning of the overpaint and discolored varnish revealing exquisite details and artistic quality. This painting has a great story I’m sure you’ll find interesting. 
Painted in 1903, a Russian masterpiece was exhibited in 1904 at the St. Louis International Exhibition to celebrate the Louisiana Purchase. This painting ended up at the De Young Museum, then the Oakland Museum of Art and then to several high end collectors, until it landed unceremoniously buried in stuff in a warehouse sometime in the 1960′s we assume. What probably happened, over the last 100 years, was that after a small rip had been repaired poorly, then again, and then another rip… and finally, the damage and the dirty surface made it fit for “long term storage” where it was forgotten… until someone started to clear things out. Recently, this artwork was to be thrown away until a sharp-eyed collector saved it from the trash. We’ll keep you posted as we resurrect the gorgeous woman in a white dress enjoying the good life.
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Old Master Painting Damaged in Shipping

This very nice old master painting came into the lab yesterday with a gouge that occurred during shipping. A little magic of consolidating the flaking, filling the indentation, inpaint (careful accurate retouching with a varnish based paint) and carefully applied local varnish (along with 35 years of experience) made the scratch disappear.

Still, in this case, with a little better quality crate and better mounting of the painting into its period frame... this damage and its cost and bother could have been totally avoided.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Would You Throw This Artwork Away?!

From Trash to Treasure with Conservation

Amazingly, this fascinating piece was found flaking and dirty in the garbage! An inept attempt was made to “restore” it that involved an abundant application of wax to hold the painting together and a wipe with solvent to remove part of the dirt.

The Dumpster Diver who found the painting gave it to a collector who recognized that under the mess of flaking paint, wax, and dirt, there was a quality vintage image. Some research and closer examination revealed the title and date: “The Discussion” from 1929. This discovery encouraged the collector to contact us for a closer examination and professional conservation treatment.

Once the painting was cleaned, FACL discovered the artist Pruett Carter’s signature in the lower right corner. This is a well-known illustrator and finding this information added value to a piece that had been thought to be worthless. Once the conservation work is completed, the artwork will look perfect and will be, once again, a quality work of art.

FACL recommends you get an expert to look over anything before you get rid of works of art, because many pieces can be restored to have significant value.

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Flaking, dirty and thrown in the trash, this discovery was a real treasure.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cleaning Paintings - Often A Surprise Even For Us

We just got into the lab a wonderful painting that was shown in the St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904. My goodness, this painting has been through tough times! We'll talk more about all the problems later but today, in our process of doing the estimate, we did cleaning tests to help us decide how willingly the varnish layers would dissolve and if that process would be dangerous to the original paint.

Even though we've been doing this since 1975, its often a surprising moment when we see the clean spot. The contrast is sometimes unexpected, perhaps like the beginning tests on the cleaning of the Sistine Chapel. We are careful to use solvents that won't attack the original paint. We also use, often, magnifiers to help us see more detail. Sometimes we need to test separately all the different colors to make sure one color will not dissolve unexpectedly while we are using a solvent. Get a look at these tests:

The "white" spots on this photo are where we have removed the dark brown varnish to reveal the original color of the dress. But here's something that you might not have noticed: See how the knee and the dress below the knee is kind of fuzzy or out of focus? Well, that's because its been repainted in previous restorations. The repainting was poorly done and WAY too abundantly. In fact, in the two cleaning tests where we tested to see if the repainting would come off, there was no damage below the retouching... we revealed original color in perfect condition.

You can imagine what a difference this cleaning will make: brighter colors, better depth of field and better contrast in the composition... a return to the original look and intent of the artist in 1903.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Personal Property Insurance and Claim Help... New Fire and Smoke Damage Photos

On our Facebook page, "Fine Art Insurance Help" see our new photos about fire and smoke damage