Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hidden Carl Oscar Borg Painting of Santa Barbara Mission Resurfaces

This nice painting of the Santa Barbara Mission by Carl Oscar Borg was inherited by it’s present owner. They aren’t passionate art collectors as a result of education or travel. Even though they inherited the good results of smart parents (who were the collectors), these present owners are still smart enough to know that keeping their valuable artwork in good condition and looking its best is a smart investment. They’ve become passionate about their “gifts.” But this painting took a bit of a turn from “just a quick cleaning.”

At some point, this painting had been trimmed and then the original composition was wrapped around the stretcher bar reducing the overall size by 1 ½” vertically off the top and 2+” horizontally, an inch+ off each side. Why (who can read the minds of Dodo birds!)? Perhaps to fit a pre-existing frame?

The result of this reduction in size was the loss to view of the upper bell housing and a good part of the dome of the closest tower. Also a good inch of detail on both sides was lost. Imagine the reduced composition and how it compromised the artist’s intent and quality!

The new owners were excited to get a larger more original painting as a result of conservation work. The edges were flattened and the painting lined to reveal once again the hidden details. What a difference in composition. And the cleaning was a huge improvement.

Top those benefits off with a new custom carved frame and you have the return of a gorgeous original Carl Oscar Borg that anyone would love to own.

Conservation/authentication questions? Call us at 805 564 3438
Appraisal and research questions? Call Richard Holgate at 805 895 5121
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Monday, September 27, 2010

"New" Edgar Payne "Found." What a difference a cleaning can make!

This just in... what a difference a cleaning makes on this Edgar Payne! (clean on the left, dirty on the right) This $100K painting was just " found"! (wish I could "find" something like this!). Yellowed varnish usually "kills" purples turning them to brown and obliterates pinks... or course, it also turns blues to green.

Also, new post of interesting article atwww.tipsforfineartcollectors.org

Please pass this interesting stuff along to others!

Monday, September 20, 2010

America Tropical by Siqueiros

Here is an LA Times article on the famous David Alfaro Siqueiros mural, America Tropical. We did the project proposal/planning of the mural for the Getty. http://lat.ms/d8dlzO

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

3 Tips Before Buying A Painting- Looking at Previous Art Conservation/Art Restoration

Practically daily, I am asked to help look over a painting that is being considered for purchase. Most of the confusion, on the part of the buyer, is when the painting doesn’t look exactly right even though there have been previous restoration/conservation treatments. Some of the questions that a collector could/should ask would be:
1. Does this painting look its best?
2. Has the previous restoration/conservation been done well?
3. Does the present condition impact the price of purchase?
Here’s an example…
Cleaning a previously cleaned painting
This painting was previously, recently cleaned.
This painting by William Wendt was lined with wax and cleaned. The painting is still muted or gray looking and the cracking is still pretty pronounced. Before purchasing the painting the prospective buyer asked me to look it over. By understanding the improvement that could be had with proper conservation treatments (complete cleaning and relining to remove the cracks) the buyer felt completely informed… full disclosure. Our price to do the cleaning, remove the wax lining and reline was $1,500.00. In this case, the buyer was able to negotiate a different sales price that was much lower than the cost of conservation. But, many dealers will at least pay for any additional conservation work needed in order to “seal the deal.”
Another question is, “Should the painting be cleaned and lined AGAIN?” Since this painting is not flaking and not at risk, preservation wise, the conservation work is mostly motivated by aesthetics. In this case, then, I usually ask what the “threshhold of pain” is for the collector. Does the collector care if the painting doesn’t show off its best color? Does cracking bother the collector (if its not at risk for flaking)? If the answer is “No”, then don’t have the work done.
This painting still needs cleaning because either the restorer didn’t see the additional dirty layer (after the top layer was removed) or the owner wanted a cheap clean which only took off the top layer of varnish but not the underlying harder layer.
Its unclear why the painting was lined with wax. It doesn’t appear to have benefited the painting at  all. It doesn’t look like it was ever flaking. So, this part of the previous treatment was simply low quality work.
This painting is actually in great condition, meaning that it has not been damaged. It will be cleaned to reveal its best colors and lined to remove the cracking. Hopefully, the spirit of William Wendt will be proud to have his painting seen in its best light.
So, what can you do to feel like you’ve got “full disclosure” (and understand all your options) before you buy? Here are 3 tips:
1. We will look at the painting for you, at no cost, if the process does not involve analysis. Call me at 805 564 3438
2. Buy from a reputable dealer. You were probably referred or linked to this website buy someone we do business with and therefore I would trust them to give you an honest full disclosure.
3. If you are buying at auction, we often preview artwork for a fee. The main auction houses will allow me to come in for a special viewing(evaluation) at your request. I know most of the painting dept people.

There are other tips for art collectors at www.tipsforfineartcollectors.org (this article will be posted there too)
Learn what you can do at home to save your stuff at www.saveyourstuffblog.com
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