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Art Conservation – Restoration Treatments


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Art restoration of gorgeous American portrait painting of artist's family in 1906. This important painting belongs to the Springville Museum of Art.

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Art Conservation – Restoration Treatments

  1. 1. Art Conservation – Restoration Treatments on “The Artist’s Wife and Daughters” by William Sargent Kendall by Oriana Montemurro, Art ConservatorWilliam Sergeant Kendall was a talented, well thought of artist who is studied in American ArtHistory classes. One of the subjects he is known for is the painting of his daughters and wife. Hewas aware of the growing dominance of Impressionism and modern art, but he continuedpainting his family utilizing the classic influence of the 19th century. It is probable that he arrivedat this technique by observing the diffused light in canvases of Jules Bastien-Lepage, whosework he admitted he liked."What we want art to do for us is to stay what is fleeting. Immortalize the things that have noduration," John Ruskin wrote in Stones of Venice. In large part, that is what has led Americans torediscover the art of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when artists believed thatlegitimate art could be created from the descriptive portrayal of families and neighborhoods. In this photograph is the oil painting by Kendall titled, “The Artist’s Wife and Daughters” (60” x 40” without the frame) which was consigned to FACL by the Springville Museum of Art in Springville, Utah for art conservation – restoration treatments. When we received this very lovely large painting in our facility the grime, the discolored varnish and the extensive craquelure were distracting the viewer’s eye from the composition and beauty of the painting. Grime and discolored varnish make a painting look dull and flat. In addition, the yellowed varnish causes an optical shift in the colors: pinks disappear, purples turn to brown, blues morph into greens and reds look more orange. With these kinds of color shifts, you can imagine how far from the original intent of the artist a yellowed varnish can alter a painting! In the case of this painting, the delicate skin tone colors were drastically shifted. The gray grime combined with the yellowed varnish causes the painting to losedepth of field and contrast making the composition look more like a two dimensional poster.The severe cracking patterns disturbed the harmonic reading of the composition. In this case, thepainting had not begun to flake yet, but cracking on paintings, in general, eventually leads to thiscondition. This painting was, however, in an advanced stage of cracking and the deformationsmade it very hard to enjoy Kendall’s genius.
  2. 2. A careful cleaning of the gray film and the removal ofthe old varnish revealed the original colors of the artistand gave the painting back its classic look. The crackingpatterns and distortions (cupping) were treated with alining, an extra support on the back of the painting,giving more strength to the original canvas to hold downflat the cracks.The art conservation work done on this painting wasguided by a respect for the artist’s intent with colors andpainting techniques. No color was removed duringcleaning and no original brush strokes were flattened ordamaged in any way. The surface of the painting, afterthe art conservation treatments, was as the artistintended.To see a short time lapse video of cleaning a painting,click on this link to go to Leave acomment and click on the THUMBS UP!“The Artist’s Wife and Daughters” is part of thepermanent collection at the Springville Museum of Art, Utah’s first museum for the visual finearts. Dedicated as a “Sanctuary of Beauty and a Temple of Contemplation” by David O. McKay,the museum houses nearly 3,000 works; 2,000 of which are Utah art. Twentieth CenturyRussian-Soviet Socialist Realism, an impressive collection of 150 years of Utah fine art, andAmerican Realist art comprise the permanent collection. The museum is a key promoter andcontributor to the arts in Utah, with over 15 exhibitions annually. For more information on thispainting go to the Springville Museum of Art website at at FACL are going to miss having this painting in the lab when we return it to themuseum. Every detail of this painting is done with wonderful quality and the expressionson the faces of the wife and daughters were good company. You can sit and look at thispainting for a long time.For a news article featuring Scott M. Haskins’s, Click here: art conservation and painting restoration questions call Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438or faclartdoc@gmail.comFor art appraisal questions call Richard Holgate at 805 895 5121 or
  3. 3. See short videos by Scott M. Haskins on art conservation related subjects at YouTubechannel “Bestartdoc” short do-it-yourself videos on collection care and emergency preparedness for artcollectors, family history items, heirlooms, memorabilia at Youtube Channel“preservationcoach” us on FacebookFine Art ConservationSave Your StuffScott M. HaskinsAbout the author: Oriana Montemurro is from Turin, Italy and has been working in thefield of painting conservation since 1998. She was invited to come to the US and workwith Fine Art Conservation Laboratories (FACL, Inc.) in 2009.