Thursday, May 31 • 4:30pm - 5:00pm
(Photographic Materials) Investigation of Portrait with Applied Oil Color

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A small painted portrait of Carl Maria Von Weber on a wood support was treated at West Lake Conservators. Analysis confirmed the presence of a silver-based underlying image, bringing particular challenges to the treatment approach. The proposed presentation focuses on the analysis and investigation that was performed in the attempt to positively identify a photographic base and how it was ultimately inconclusive. The decision making process for the treatment that was carried out was informed by the possibility of the presence of a photographic print. High Energy Synchrotron Source XRF analysis confirmed and mapped the presence of silver which could signify either an underlying photographic print or a silver point drawing. Additional microscopy was carried out as well as cross-section analysis but the presence of a protein (gelatin or albumen) that would hone in on determining the presence of a photographic process could not be positively determined. As a private conservation practice, West Lake Conservators has limited access to analytical tools and data processing. After taking the analysis as far as possible through the generous collaboration of local institutions and colleagues, it was prescient to offer the private owner of the object an expedite and practical treatment proposal. Cleaning and consolidation treatment were carried out taking into consideration the possibility of an underlying photographic print with a water-sensitive binder. Although the investigation was ultimately inconclusive in positively establishing the presence of a photographic print and although the treatment that was carried out is not innovative, the process of attempting to characterize an object within the constraints of a private practice has value in itself and may add to the knowledge for further research into the this type of composite structure.

avatar for Abbott Nixon

Abbott Nixon

Painting Conservation Assistant & Operations Manager, West Lake Conservators
Abbott received her B.A. in Arts Administration from SUNY Fredonia, where she studied the ephemeral performance art. She received her M.A. in Critical Museum Studies in May 2018, where she focused on the museum management and wrote her Master's thesis on the ethics of material degradation... Read More →

avatar for Luisa Casella

Luisa Casella

Photograph Conservator, West Lake Conservators
Luisa has a Masters in conservation from the Instituto Politénico de Tomar, in Portugal. She worked for eight years at Luis Pavão Limitada, serving museums, archives, and cultural institutions. In 2005 Luisa was awarded the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of the Advanced Residency Program... Read More →

Thursday May 31, 2018 4:30pm - 5:00pm
Hunters Creek Meeting Room Marriott Marquis Houston

Attendees (39)