From East to West: News from Paintings Conservation at the CMA

The conservation department has been co-hosting and teaching the Keithley Institute’s object based art history program’s PhD and Master candidates with Painting Conservator Heather Galloway (who has departed the ICA to start up her own practice and continue to help the CMA/CWRU with teaching).

In the paintings lab, Paintings Conservator Marcia Steele has been working on an article entitled “Transmitted Light Infrared Imaging of Two Paintings by Poussin at The Cleveland Museum of Art” for a publication of Nicolas Poussin. Technique, Practice, Conservation. This volume will be published by Kermes in relation to the Poussin exhibition currently at the Louvre. Her treatment of Valentin de Boulogne’s Samson 1631 prompted a trip to see the Head of Conservation, Susanne Hargrove at the Toledo Museum and to examine their painting of The Fortune Teller 1620. Some of her research on Andrea del Sarto’s Sacrifice of Isaac will be published in the catalogue Andrea del Sarto: The Renaissance Workshop in Action for an exhibition at the Getty Museum opening in June 2015.

Paintings Conservator, Dean Yoder completed a seven-month long cleaning of the CMA’s Caravaggio, Crucifixion of St. Andrew. Last summer part of the cleaning was carried out in public as part of a conservation exhibition, which also featured videos explaining the process and backlit full scale X-rays and IR composites. Dean traveled to Italy with curator Cory Korkow to visit churches, institutions, and meet with Caravaggio scholars and conservators. Greg Smith, Senior Conservation Scientist at the Indianapolis Museum of Art has aided with the scientific analysis of cross sections and other samples for this project. The painting will be back on view in the galleries in January 2016 for the museum’s centennial celebration.

Eric and Jane Nord Chief Conservator, Per Knutås, cleaned Poplars in San Remy by Vincent van Gogh in between administrative work. In December Per travelled to Portland and Seattle as a courier and managed to squeeze in a tour of the Gamblin Paints facility and a meeting with Nicholas Dorman, Chief Conservator at the Seattle Art Museum.

Painting and Frame Conservation Technician Dave Piurek finished a comprehensive frame restoration. The frame is enhancing our Edouard Manet Portrait of Berthe Morisot and included removal of overpaint, previous restoration gilding, applying a new gesso and regilding large portions of the frame.

The paintings conservation department is pleased to have Bianca M. Garcia (WUDPAC 2016) for her 3rd year internship.

Asian Paintings Conservator Sara Ribbans continues to work on rotations with the Curator of Japanese and Korean Art as well as establishing treatment priorities for paintings that require remounting for future display. Sara has been involved in a major treatment, cleaning and relining, of a painting and calligraphy on silk mounted as a handscroll. This is an important piece in the collection from the 17th century, a collaboration between painter Sotatsu and calligrapher Koetsu. In addition to the Japanese collection Sara has worked on the cleaning, consolidation, and mounting of a Tibetan thangka painting and an Indian manuscript painting on cotton. Along with treatment of these paintings, Chinese Painting Conservator Yi-Hsia Hsiao and Sara are looking at non-destructive analytical methods for identifying pigments and dyes used on thangka paintings. To augment this work, in March Sara visited Paintings on Paper and Silk Conservator, Shiho Sasaki at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, to study their collection of thangkas and discuss the analytical methods they have been using. In June/July Sara will travel to Korea with two paintings on loan to the Leeum Samsung Museum for their anniversary year. During this same trip she will take the opportunity to visit Japan for supplies and to connect with Asian paintings conservators there.

Yi-Hsia Hsiao joined CMA’s conservation team as a new Chinese paintings conservator last year and has been outfitting the lab with equipment, tools, and materials for Chinese conservation. She finished a series of professional development trips to the Palace Museum, Beijing and conducted condition checking on about 200 Chinese objects that included Qing dynasty imperial hanging scrolls, handscrolls, and album leaf, in collaboration with VMFA, Richmond. In addition, she has worked on grading the condition of CMA’s Chinese paintings and prioritizing the major treatment with the curator for this upcoming spring project. She worked with a visiting senior Chinese paintings conservator from Shanghai Museum remounting selected hanging scrolls in the beginning of March.

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