Simon Gillespie, chemist, magician - the masterpieces he has restored for the Lant Collection


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I hear the cry, I see the need, but alone I cannot do the task. To achieve the desired result I need a collaborator... a person as fastidious as I am, as exacting, as motivated to return a once beautiful thing to its full, proud state. I need -- Simon Gillespie, sleuth, chemist, aesthete, magician. And, as this article will prove, I am lucky to have him, just as he is lucky to have me... both essential for the achievement of the goal.

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Simon Gillespie, chemist, magician - the masterpieces he has restored for the Lant Collection

  1. 1. Simon Gillespie, sleuth, chemist, aesthete, magician - the masterpieces he has restored for the Lant Collection
  2. 2. Preface / Introduction@~~~>The LAST Time I Made This OFFER I was BURIED in calls so I am limiting this to theNEXT 5 PEOPLE ONLY CALL ME NOW - dont miss out! CALL ME NOW for your FREEInternet marketing consultation. $100 value. Let an expert show you RIGHT NOW how to profitonline every single day without leaving home. CALL ME -- Liz English -- NOW, (315) 668-1591.LIVE 24/7/365.Each picture he saves, and many have been masterpieces down on their luck is the work of alifetime. To contact Simon Gillespie Studio in London email or go
  3. 3. Table of Contents1. When your experts disagree and why every connoisseur needs a conservator of integrity andverve... like I have.2. Youre lovely, absolutely lovely. Connoisseurs, the objects of their desire, the gnawingobsession.3. Flowers assuage all sorts of misfortune. A masterpiece by Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer found,restored, enjoyed in The Lant Collection.
  4. 4. Simon Gillespie, sleuth, chemist, aesthete, magician - the masterpieces he has restored for the Lant CollectionWhen your experts disagree and why every connoisseurneeds a conservator of integrity and verve... like I have.By Dr. Jeffrey LantAuthors program notes. When I go to an art museum, gallery or auction house I am eagle-eyed andfastidious to a degree. A nick in the frame, the dust and grime of centuries, the general effect sadand forlorn, all these I see. I see, too, the myriad of other defects in these often bedraggled artifactswhich are a severely neglected part of our artistic inheritance. I see them... I decry them... but if thepicture in question be on offer... such defects constitute a cri de coeur I cannot resist.For I am a good Samaritan, thrilled by finding something that was once splendid but has fallen uponhard times; an object once of brilliance and splendor, calling to me to restore it to its pristine allure.I hear the cry, I see the need, but alone I cannot do the task. To achieve the desired result I need acollaborator... a person as fastidious as I am, as exacting, as motivated to return a once beautifulthing to its full, proud state. I need -- Simon Gillespie, sleuth, chemist, aesthete, magician. And, asthis article will prove, I am lucky to have him, just as he is lucky to have me... both essential for theachievement of the goal.For the incidental music to this article, I have selected, so perfect, Modest Mussorgskys 1874 suite"Pictures at an Exhibition" (which youll find in any search engine) because I know what going toexhibitions with Simon is like. We are both opinionated men, men of wit and wisdom, men unafraidto weigh in on the relative merits of any picture by any artist on earth... we are men, too, who enjoy,as what true connoisseur does not, lifes good things... and we like to share them, too.Dorotheum.I am always on the hunt for another picture for my collection. One admirable place to find the OldMasters I desire is in Vienna at Dorotheum, where since 1707 connoisseurs have found pictures totheir taste. I loved it at once and I somewhat regret sharing this information with you, as I know youwill love it, too, and someday we may vie for the same object, to your dismay since I am unrelentingwhere the pursuit of beauty and ownership are concerned. Still, as I am a good Samaritan...At Dorotheum I find the treasures particularly of Middle Europe, lands of nobility, culture, and ofonce proud dynasties now with impecunious relations who sell history with regret. I feel completelyat home in these corridors...The "Gnaw" test.... The picture of Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II captured my eye at once. It was, even in itsterrible condition, worth a second glance.... then a third. It portrays the future Emperor as GrandDuke of Tuscany, in 1765 , a lucky boy who had been gifted with the city of Florence and environsto reign over. It was a fate any civilized person could enjoy without cavil. His brother Joseph II wasemperor of all, with all the worlds problems. Fortunate Leopold had la dolce vita and the portrait,for all its imperfections, showed that.Thus fortified, I slept on the matter, and it passed the "gnaw" test; viz., if the item in question is ofsufficient interest that it gnaws at you ... then you must pursue the matter. That is the connoisseurscredo, and I adhere to it fiercely.I emailed the efficient staff at Dorotheum, requested the condition report (it made for almostmacabre reading what with all its damages and how they happened)... and then asked to speak withthe staff expert on this picture. She was charming, knowledgeable -- and adamant. Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 4 of 13
  5. 5. Simon Gillespie, sleuth, chemist, aesthete, magician - the masterpieces he has restored for the Lant Collection"Do not buy this picture."If you have never done business with any of the major auction houses, you may well be incredulousat an employee therein telling a customer looking for reasons to buy that such reasons were few,indeed non-existent, and that youd be most sorry if you disregarded the advice not to purchase. Butthere is a method to this madness and that is the value of long-time satisfied customers. Suchcustomers in the Old Masters category can easily buy objects totaling hundreds of thousands, evenmillions of dollars in a lifetime. Thus these auction houses, many founded like Dorotheum in the18th century, take the long view -- and so their candor stems from more than basic honesty... it isgood business.Dorotheums in-house expert on the painting had good reasons for what she said: the picture, not toput too fine a point on the matter, was an unholy mess, as you can see from the " before" photoabove. Whats more, the picture was so far gone that restoration, in her professional opinion, wasimpossible. The object was well and truly one step from the ignoble street vendor or flea market.And that, so she said, was that.But there she was wrong... I had Simon Gillespie in my corner. And I was on the telephone to him afew minutes after I had heard what Dorotheums expert had to say."How long have I done your pictures?"Many years ago, I purchased from Sothebys in London a magnificent portrait of Queen Victoriashandsome, irresponsible father-in-law, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. It should have been inBuckingham Palace but probably wasnt because Her Majesty didnt approve of his hurtful behaviortowards his son, her adored Prince Albert. And so wafted by this royal displeasure, the picturecommenced its history of peregrinations. Until I saw it, wanted it, but didnt at all like the idea ofliving with its imperfections. I had enough of my own.I asked the expert assigned to this picture to recommend a restorer and conservator... and thus SimonGillespie and I came to know each other and work together towards assembling pictures of note...and bringing them back to life. When I told Simon what Dorotheums expert had said, he answeredbriefly and to the point: "How long have I done your pictures?" In short, his opinion, stated franklyand without equivocation was to acquire this off-putting picture and let him get on with the job athand. Expert advice and all importantly expert results make me who advise so many take heed at hisadvice. And so, over the course not just of years,but of decades, Simon has broughtrecommendations to me; I have brought my potential finds to him for always candid advice. Andone picture after another (now a thing of beauty yet again) has embarked for the New World to mydomain...... and each time they arrive, I am the proverbial kid in the candy shop, for, remember, until thatmoment I have not actually seen the object but in photographs... each acquisition instead acquired onthe recommendation of one sage fellow who has never misadvised or misdirected me.Stunning, smart, chic, how does he do it?And so the latest item in my happy avocation is now in Cambridge... the picture I was explicitly toldto avoid... but took bolder counsel from Simon. And, of course, to see the "before" and the "after" isto know at once why a good conservator would never do... it had to be the best. And so it is. In everywork he and his attentive staff take on... you are sure to find a result of integrity, for Simon likeme,is supremely dedicated to doing the right thing, the accurate thing, the thing that "restores", notinvents.Each picture he saves, and many have been celebrated masterpieces down on their luck, is the work Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 5 of 13
  6. 6. Simon Gillespie, sleuth, chemist, aesthete, magician - the masterpieces he has restored for the Lant Collectionof a lifetime. For Simon is a conservator to his fingertips. That means he has helped back to healthone work after another, learning in their subjects, their compositions, their brush strokes andflourishes their secrets... and so he keeps good faith with them and their creators... and the samegood faith to customers like me who demand authenticity and in Simon Gillespie they always get it.To contact Simon Gillespie Studio in London email or go tosimongillespie.com Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 6 of 13
  7. 7. Simon Gillespie, sleuth, chemist, aesthete, magician - the masterpieces he has restored for the Lant CollectionYoure lovely, absolutely lovely. Connoisseurs, the objectsof their desire, the gnawing Dr. Jeffrey LantAuthors program note. One of the loveliest songs ever written, short though it is, was composed byStephen Sondheim for his 1962 musical "A funny thing happened on the way to the forum." Itscalled "Lovely", and he wrote both book and music.The song only lasts for 2 minutes and 28 captivating seconds... but once youve heard it even a singletime it will circulate throughout your brain for life. Its the kind of song that forces you to createsituations where you can sing it, use it. For instance, I have recommended singing it to yourSignificant Other the very minute you come home this evening... always accompanying youradmittedly croaky voice with flowers, candies, and ardent declarations delivered on one arthriticknee. That Significant Other will no doubt gibe, giggle, and give every indication of busting a gutlaughing, but theyll be touched to the core. And Sondheim, a master in every way, wrote it for justthat.Go now to any search engine and let the music frolic around you. You cannot be anything other thanhappy, for you see you are the person Songheim celebrated in this tune...... You that is and every object desired by every single connoisseur and collector on earth. And that,given the incessant collectors we are, is just about everyone."Youre lovely".I am what is called a connoisseur, that is a master of matters artistic and of taste... the kind of personwho can say with credibility of any object on earth just what is, and even more important, what isnot of value to civilization. It is back breaking work, what with millions of artifacts to find, subjectto minute scrutiny, and, the object passing the most stringent of tests, arranging the contortions,financial and otherwise, which lead to acquisition and a lifetime of unadulterated love (with dollopsof shrewdness and cleverness to sweeten the mix.)This process, for me, begins with a catalog from any of the great auction houses on earth... withnames like Sothebys! Christies! The Dorotheum! Et al, great and small. These produce the sirensongs that capture my attention and cause me endless nights of torment and insistent cogitation...these are the places, the very holiest of holies for connoisseurs, that wreck havoc in the minds andpocket books of even the most well heeled on earth. And of course these long-standing institutionswith instantly recognizable names (at least to connoisseurs) are expert at catching their fish (thatwould be you and me, dear friend) and keeping them on their gilded hook c. 1250 A.D. once theproperty of the Queen of Bohemia. Look at yourself in the mirror and remember: you are about to gofishing in the most teeming waters on earth where your expertise will be tested against the verybest... whose skills, wiles, courtesies and insights have been honed over centuries... all designed tocapture you... the unceasing object of their potent desires.Catalogs you pay for, versus catalogs hand endorsed and wafted to you.When I began collecting so many years ago, the Internet was not dreamed of, much less a universalfactor of life. And so collectors like me had to rely on the sales catalogs produced by the manydivisions of the major houses. If you have never seen such a catalog you will not understand thatthese in no way resemble the short and flimsy cousins produced by, say, companies selling roastedmeats. No indeed. These companies share a word... but nothing more. For the auction house catalogsare nothing short of the erudite and lavishly photographed "coffee table" books of yore, with only Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 7 of 13
  8. 8. Simon Gillespie, sleuth, chemist, aesthete, magician - the masterpieces he has restored for the Lant Collectionone difference: in these catalogs every single thing is for sale, could be yours, and which you areallowed, indeed encouraged to want... fervently, wildly, devotedly. Yes anything, everything couldbe yours... for a price.In the beginning of course, when these long-established houses (with the grandest dating from the18th century) do not know you, you must pay for the privilege of getting a catalog. And, as if towarn you about what is to follow, even these catalogs are steeply priced, at $50 or more each.But when you are that all-important entity -- a demonstrated connoisseur -- you may request anycatalog for free... or, when you are more well-known, too, specialists will send you their latest, acard enclosed with their compliments. One such specialist so beguiled yesterday sent me the latestsales catalog from Sothebys Amsterdam, for they have sales from noble and royal houses whichbeguile me, and regularly seduce me from the thrifty ways of my plain-living, luxury abhoringPuritan ancestors. They look down on me now with disdain and disapproval... But that is theirproblem, not mine."Im lovely. All I am is lovely."No one can aspire to being a connoisseur without the "eye"; that is the practiced ability to perceive,not just to see, an item. This is the work of a lifetime... for, you see, ages previous to ours did nothave just or only masters; there were many lackluster crafts people... and, such is fate... they oftensurvived where the superior productions of their more gifted brethren may not. Yes, Fate is ficklethat way.To develop your eye requires incessant labor... the willingness, indeed the desire, or better yet, theobsession... to examine, scrutinize, and, at all times, improve your ability to know what you arelooking at, and why it either is or is not worthy of... you. This all starts when an item you see in asales catalog, or on the Internet, looks at you (for the object most assuredly selects you, as much asbeing selected by you)... when, I say, that item looks at you and says without any modesty at all..."Im lovely. All I am is lovely. Lovely is the one thing I can do..."But is this claim true... or merely a ruse... to ensnare you? This is where you must have help... or youare on the way to a very expensive mistake, a mistake which is almost always avoidable if you doyour homework; which entails finding, listening to, and following the advice of experts who havespent a lifetime perfecting skills and knowledge you dont have but which you desperately needright now. Such experts can be acquired, first, from the auction houses themselves and then byreferral from the auction houses.Direct, candid, honest to a fault.One of the most gratifying and unexpected things youll learn as you develop as a connoisseur is thehonor and honesty of experts. Their candor is a by-word and rare in our world of mendacity andpracticed deceits. In short they tell the truth. And no matter how thoroughly you mature as aconnoisseur you will always rely on it... as I do. My chief support is London-based Simon Gillespie,conservator of paintings, friend, goad, willing ear, magnificent eye. Sometimes he brings possibleacquisitions to me; sometimes I to him. In the case of the striking floral still life pictured above, byJean-Baptiste Monnoyer (1636-1699) it was, first, my find; then after Simons review, very much hisas well. The song sung by this lovely painting by one of the greatest masters, had not been sung invane. I had taken the bait... as how could I not... for I already knew the man and his work; one of hismagnificent ouevres was mine already, hung here to enliven the gray winter days of Cambridge...and never anything other than winsome.Thus the duet.Each object, every artifact which could be collected must sing out about its merits, particularly when Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 8 of 13
  9. 9. Simon Gillespie, sleuth, chemist, aesthete, magician - the masterpieces he has restored for the Lant Collectionthose merits are not immediately apparent and only as a result of some master conservatorsministrations, the work of a Simon Gillespie, absolutely essential to the long-term value andpreservation, for such necessary experts see below the damages, scarred surfaces and problemswhich accrue in these objects over time -- and these were immense and challenging in the newMonnoyer. In short, they see the "lovely" in items anything but. And the lucky ones (for they arelucky indeed) are snapped up (often at bargain prices), about to be returned to their originalcondition, a thing of beauty, a joy forever.And it is the connoisseur who makes that decision (always after soliciting the best advice) andmakes the necessary investment of time, money, patience, and belief. And who then is more thanqualified to sing back to the object of his affection these words by Sondheim:"Youre lovely, Absolutely lovely. Whod believe the loveliness of you?"I would. I did. And now it is mine, "Radiant as in some dream come true."### Your comments on this article are invited, post your comments below. Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 9 of 13
  10. 10. Simon Gillespie, sleuth, chemist, aesthete, magician - the masterpieces he has restored for the Lant CollectionFlowers assuage all sorts of misfortune. A masterpiece byJean-Baptiste Monnoyer found, restored, enjoyed in TheLant Dr. Jeffrey LantAuthors program note. In the 17th century, in France, ambitious men strove to become the mastersof their crafts. They didnt look for short-cuts; abominated slothful, slipshod ways, and always,always aimed not merely to excel, but to astonish not only their colleagues and their patrons... butmost of all themselves, their most discerning critic, the one who knew everything and from whomthere could be no secrets or matters undisclosed.For the incidental music to this article on French master Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer, painter of flowers,I have selected music by Francois Couperin (1668-1733), master composer. Go to any search engineand find one of the many renditions of his gem "Les Baricades Misterieuses." Turn it on, turn it up,for you are in the company of deft mastery, of craftsmanship, of genius.Sothebys, London, Lot 251, December 8, 2011.This is what the catalog said:"Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer (Lille 1636-London 1699)A still life of lilies, honeysuckle and other flowers in a vase on a ledge.Signed lower right JBaptiste. oil on canvas 17 7/8" by 22 3/8 in."This write-up was accompanied by a photograph, a photograph disclosing without mercy the pitiablecondition of what had once been a work of grace, beauty, and allure, but which now was anythingbut. My heart went out to this picture, its painter, its present state of distress and the thought thathere I might be able to make a difference, to make a once proud and beautiful object proud andbeautiful again.About Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer.Monnoyer started his career providing designs for both the Gobelins and Beauvais tapestryworkshops, the acme of such works. There his fruit and flower designs were judged to be excellent.Such was his skill and artistry that he was taken up by Charles Le Brun and so came to work at theChateau de Marly, the hideaway King Louis XIV sought when the pomp and protocol which hecreated and insisted be used at Versailles became too overwhelming even for a Sun King.Monnoyer, thus, was in the perfect place at the moment of its sumptuous perfection.In 1690, having been admitted to the Academie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, he went toEngland, where his masterful work crafting over 50 panels for Montague House, Bloomsbury,London created a vogue for the man and his meticulous work produced with botanical accuracy. Hedid not merely paint flowers, he made them live. It was a skill only the greatest masters possess...and which Monnoyer possessed in such abundance that he was no longer a painter of flowers, nomatter how excellent, but The Master of such painters, the doyen who set the standard by which allothers would be judged. Such a master did not ask me to scrutinize this work and do what wasnecessary to rehabilitate it. He commanded me to do so.A call to Simon Gillespie, Cleveland Street, London.When I see a thing of beauty which I might want for my collection, I contact Simon Gillespie, for in Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 10 of 13
  11. 11. Simon Gillespie, sleuth, chemist, aesthete, magician - the masterpieces he has restored for the Lant Collectionthe art of conserving pictures, he is as masterful as Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer in creating them. And Iknow whereof I speak, for over the last 25 years Simon has restored over 30 pictures for me, all ofwhich were badly damaged at acquisition but, because of painstaking, meticulous work, came to liveagain. For a thing of beauty can only be a joy forever if it is expertly, regularly cared for with theskill and dexterity of which Gillespie is past master. I know the man. I know his work. I would notthink of commissioning another to save the imperiled pictures I collect and delight in saving.This is what he told me about this Monnoyer before I acquired it: "This was once a very beautifulpicture by a very good artist. It has probably been in a very hot room at the start of its life where itdried rapidly causing a dramatic set of cracks. I think I should go and have a look when it is up onthe wall to determine the viability of resurrecting it." And so it began... he doing his research, medoing mine.The online Artcyclopedia provided me with excellent but rather daunting information; the works ofJean-Baptiste Monnoyer are found in the Fitzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge; theHermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; theMuseum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Royal Collection in London. Moreover, the J. Paul GettyMuseum in Los Angeles has acquired 13 -- yes 13 -- of his paintings and with almost unlimitedfunds could easily outbid me.... outbid, perhaps, but perhaps not outsmart.And so, with the perceived distress of this masterpiece working in my favor, I acquired it... happythat what it needed we could provide and at once.What had to be done.The picture was brought to Simons studio where tests were carried out to remove the various layersof dirt, grime, discolored varnish. and small amounts of over paint which had been applied tominimize some of the cracking but also liberally covered original paint unnecessarily.The cracks were indeed disfiguring and interrupted the fine detail of the brush strokes of the flowers.The canvas had also been enlarged top and bottom incorporating the old edges of the canvas,presumably to fit an old frame or match a series of other paintings. Each of these problems -- andseveral others --had to be solved, not merely finessed. And as you can see from the merest glanceabove, each and every one of them was solved...All this having been accomplished, Simon wrote this to me: "The resulting work of art is a veryrefined piece of painting from a famous artist who knew how to achieve a great painting. I amalways proud to see that after years of bad experience a picture can undergo such a goodtransformation. Looking at the painting now, you would never know that it had taken this recentjourney."Indeed not, and that is why Simon Gillespie is the master craftsman he is, and why I deem it notmerely a practical necessity but an honor to enage him and his talented staff.Here, in Cambridge, to cheer and remind me.Now this masterpiece hangs in my inter sanctum, the place where I think, write, and think somemore; the place where I am writing you now. It is a special place... a place devoted to making theworld a better place... an exacting task in which my two Monnoyers assist. For both fell upon hardtimes and were rescued... and if two can be rescued, why not three, three hundred, and more?All it takes is starting with a single step, for as 20th century poet Wallace Stevens wrote afterdiscovering Monnoyer, flowers assuage "all sorts of misfortune". Thus we must do everything wecan to ensure they have the chance to perform their comforting work, suffusing our often difficultlives with brilliant color, light, hope... and the vision and craft of masters like Monnoyer, Couperin, Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 11 of 13
  12. 12. Simon Gillespie, sleuth, chemist, aesthete, magician - the masterpieces he has restored for the Lant Collectionand Gillespie. Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 12 of 13
  13. 13. Simon Gillespie, sleuth, chemist, aesthete, magician - the masterpieces he has restored for the Lant CollectionResourceAbout the Author Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a widerange of online services for small and-home based businesses. Dr. Lant is an avid art collector.Republished with authors permission by Elizabeth English Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 13 of 13