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May 29, 2015

You're right - the week isn't complete without Before & After Friday Projects.

Step up onto the Uptown Bus 'cause today's renovations aren't ones
that most of us could perform or even afford:  historic art restoration.

Before                             After
Hundreds of years of dust, grime and sun damage eventually
take their toll on a painting.  Just touching the surface
leaves behind minuscule traces of oil from your fingers.
And, over the years, it accumulates.


The next two examples show the stark difference
when half of a painting has been restored:

Dramatic difference, isn't it?

Before        After
One of the most significant restorations of the 20th century was that done
to the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.  Over the years a
few half-hearted efforts had been undertaken to repair and restore the
frescoes but this latest work began in 1980 and continued until 1994.

Italian Renaissance artist Raphael painted Madonna and the Goldfinch in 1506:
Its damage had reached the point where it was barely salvageable.
Restoration began in 2002 and wasn't complete until 2008.

The before and after photos of a W. Webb 19th century British oil painting:

The before and after photos of a Seth Eastman painting, ca 1848:

Miguel Cabrera's 18th century San Jose:
 Some foolish person had cut the corners off of the
painting for it to fit into an octagon-shaped frame.

Antique period canvas was used to help match
the repairs as close to the original as possible.

Anthony van Dyck's portrait of Olivia Boteler Porter:
Before              After

David Stein & Co. is one of the few studios that specialize in museum
quality conservation and restoration of heirlooms and valuable fine art.  
Painstaking efforts are taken in repairing tears, holes, cracking, flaking
and discolored varnish, as well as smoke, fire and water damage.

As restoration progressed on the portrait, below, it was discovered that it is
a painting of Virginia Woolf by Mary Catherine Callan in the early 1900's:

Before and during restoration:

Humidity, smoke damage and yellowed varnish were
the main problems with this antique painting.

This early 20th century painting suffered damage from a fall:

It was mounted on a new board for stability then it was cleaned,
the cracks were repaired and missing paint was retouched.

This oil portrait had been wrapped in newspaper and stored
for decades in a hot attic.  The heat had caused some of the
paint to melt in spots and bond with the newspaper.
Very nice preservation.

During restoration it was discovered that this painting:
was a study ('practice' painting) by Constant Mayer for his 1865 painting
Love's Melancholy which is housed in The Art Institute of Chicago: 

Paintings aren't the only fine art pieces that can need repairs.  Francesco
Maratta's 17th century bust of his brother, the painter Carlo Maratta, was
damaged during World War II while being housed in Berlin's Bode
Museum.  It received a 'nose job' and a cleaning:
 This year the Bode Museum is hosting an exhibit titled "The Missing Museum:
the Berlin Sculpture and Painting collections 70 Years After World War II."
It consists of 400 paintings and sculptures, including pieces by Caravaggio,
Rubens and Donatello, that were damaged while stored in the Friedrichshain bunker.
 The exhibit explores ethical and practical decisions museums face in regard
to war-damaged works, namely whether they should be restored or left in
their ruined state as a permanent reminder of the horrors of the conflict.
When grappling to understand the astounding devastation to human life
in times of war, it's easy to forget the toll it takes on our culture and the
arts. The exhibit is sure to be a sobering reminder.

Well, enough high-brow elbow-rubbing and deep contemplation
of the sophisticated art world.  It's Friday - party!


  1. Great post. Now that I live with an artist, I have discovered a new interest in art and this was very informative. Thanks Jan!

  2. Beautiful post today.

    cheers, parsnip