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6. Specialty Session [clear filter]
Thursday, May 31


(Paintings) Surprise Encounters with Mummy Portraits at the Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago houses two second-century Roman-era Egyptian mummy portraits in its collection. In recent years mummy portraits have been the focus of considerable study, and the Art Institute’s examples have been examined using multiple analytical techniques in an effort to elucidate the methods and materials used in their creation. During the course of these investigations, intriguing differences between the two portraits were noted. With regard to the binding medium, one of the portraits bears the hallmark robust impasto of wax applied using the encaustic technique, and the other displays the flatter, matte appearance accompanied by the striking tratteggio and crosshatching that is often associated with tempera painting. Indeed, prior to technical examination the two paintings were perceived as such. Analysis of the binding medium of the first portrait using Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopy (FTIR) and gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS) demonstrated, unsurprisingly, that it is composed of wax, supporting a description of the technique as encaustic. However, analysis of the second portrait unexpectedly also revealed the presence of wax. A limited number of published studies of media analyses of other portraits which yielded the same dichotomous results—assumed to be egg or glue based on visual appearance but found to be wax upon technical investigation—has confirmed the existence of similar objects in other collections. The Chicago painting is, consequently, one of a growing corpus of portraits that thrusts a tint of grey into an art historical construct that has been presented as quite black and white. Additionally, both portraits were examined with a combination of non-invasive in-situ scanning X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and near infrared luminescence imaging (visible induced luminescence spectroscopy, VILS). The presence of cuprorivaite, or ‘Egyptian blue’, was detected on both portraits, but its character and distribution varied startlingly between them. This discovery raises numerous questions as to the artists’ working methods, material choices, and the transmission of techniques between the Fayum region and the wider Graeco-Roman world. The analyses of the Chicago portraits, alongside collaborative work with other institutions housing similar portraits, adds to the body of information that will hopefully, ultimately address such questions. But it also serves as useful reminder that works of art often resist clear categorization since they are, after all, human creations and thus subject to the individualities and idiosyncrasies of their makers.

avatar for Rachel C. Sabino-[PA]

Rachel C. Sabino-[PA]

Associate Conservator of Objects, Art Institute of Chicago
RACHEL C. SABINO has been Associate Conservator of Objects at the Art Institute of Chicago since 2011 where, in addition to treatment-related activities, she has been a co-author of the museum's online scholarly catalogue of Roman art. Rachel held previous positions at the National... Read More →

avatar for Emeline Pouyet

Emeline Pouyet

Post doctoral fellow, Northwestern University/Art Institute of Chicago
Emeline Pouyet is a post-doctoral fellow at the NU-ACCESS center (Chicago, U.S.A). She received her M.S. degree in Archaeometry in 2010 and completed her Ph.D. studies in 2014 at the ID21 beamline at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (Grenoble, France). Her activities focused... Read More →
avatar for Federica Pozzi

Federica Pozzi

Associate Research Scientist, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Federica Pozzi, Associate Research Scientist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, leads the Network Initiative for Conservation Science (NICS), a pilot program aiming to support New York–area museums that do not have access to a state-of-the-art scientific research facility. Federica... Read More →

Ken Sutherland

Conservation Scientist, Art Institute of Chicago
Ken Sutherland is a scientist in the Department of Conservation and Science at the Art Institute of Chicago. He held previous positions as scientist in the Conservation Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Research Fellow in the Scientific Research Department of the National... Read More →
avatar for Marc Sebastian Walton

Marc Sebastian Walton

Co-Director, Research Professor, Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts
Marc Walton joined the Northwestern University / Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts in 2013 as its inaugural Senior Scientist and as a Research Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University. In January of 2018, he was appointed... Read More →

Thursday May 31, 2018 2:00pm - 2:30pm
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston


(Paintings) A Convenient Method: Canvas Painting in 16th Century Florence
In 16th century Italy, the use of canvas as a support for paintings was more closely associated with Venice than with Florence, yet Florentine painters utilized canvas for certain projects. It has been noted that this usually indicates that these paintings were created for specific purposes such as banners. However, these functions are not always so obvious, and this major clue to the origin of a work can go ignored. This study explores the reasons for using canvas by looking at the works themselves as well as contemporary writings including Vasari on Technique. Vasari, proudly grounded in the Tuscan tradition of panel painting, had a definite respect for the utility of canvas; he writes that it is a “convenient” support, a word which for him had ethical as well as practical connotations. Such research can help re-contextualize works especially those that were not originally conceived as independent paintings. By looking at materials and techniques, as well as evidence of damage and alteration, a painting has recently been identified as part of a temporary decoration (apparato) created for the Medici wedding of 1565; that case study is the core of this paper. At the time, such decorations were extremely important, created by the leading artists of the day, including Pontormo, Bronzino and Alessandro Allori. Designed as ephemera, few have survived, and they are almost forgotten as an art form. Canvas was “convenient” for these decorations not only because – as is often mentioned – it was cheaper, lighter and could be made quite large – but also because it could easily and thriftily be made to an exact, predetermined size so as to fit in an architectural framework that was itself the ancestor of the modern theater set. Using very simple examination techniques - measuring canvas widths, looking at seaming and scalloping as well as ground types and thicknesses and the range of pigments used – a great deal can be understood about this early modern installation art as well as other uses of canvas by artists for whom it was a specific choice. The advantages they found would then inform the more common use of canvas in later centuries.

avatar for Jean Dommermuth-[Fellow]

Jean Dommermuth-[Fellow]

Senior Conservator, ArtCare Conservation, A Rustin Levenson Company
BA in Art History and MBA, University of Illinois; MA in Art History and Diploma in Art Conservation, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. After earning her graduate degree in conservation, Jean completed a two year internship focusing on the treatment of old master paintings... Read More →

Thursday May 31, 2018 2:30pm - 3:00pm
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston


(Paintings) Material Insights and Challenges in the Treatment of Maarten de Vos’ "Portrait of a Woman"
Material analysis was crucial in treating Portrait of an Old Woman by Maarten de Vos (National Gallery of Art, Washington). During varnish removal the extent of overpaint became apparent; non-invasive and invasive analytical methods were used to determine its composition and distribution. Micro-sample analysis of the background and sitter’s hat revealed non-original materials: a discolored drying-oil layer (characterized by FTIR and GCMS); at least two layers of oil-based overpaint covering the hat; and at least three layers of oil-based overpaint covering the background. Stratigraphy revealed in cross sections guided decisions regarding treatment in these areas. The non-original oil layer was key to successful overpaint removal, providing a barrier between original and overpaint. More challenging was determining the extent of overpaint on the sitter’s black garment. Microscopic visual examination of the paint surface showed clear evidence of overpaint: a coarse-textured dark paint layer traversing cracks and damage in the underlying paint. A cross-section taken from the garment revealed two dark paint layers without intervening varnish or oil layer. The upper layer (the coarse dark overpaint noted above) was rich in smalt as determined by PLM and SEM-EDX (Si, Co, As, Ni identified). This layer also contains earth pigments (Fe) and small amounts of lead white (Pb). The lower layer did not contain smalt and had larger amounts of lead white and earths with traces of umber (Pb, Fe, Mn). To determine the extent of the dark, smalt-rich overpaint compared to the original paint, X-ray fluorescence imaging spectroscopy was performed. The co-localization of cobalt, arsenic, and nickel in the XRF maps indicated the presence of smalt across the garment. Smalt original to the painting was also present on the right side of the background. However, interestingly, the ratio of nickel to cobalt showed the smalt used in the background had a higher Ni content compared to that found in the garment, suggesting two different sources of smalt were used. XRF maps of Co, As and Ni have distributions that relate to the surface design of the garment; however, XRF maps of Pb, Fe, and Mn show a different design that may relate more to the lower, original paint layer identified in the cross-section. The inclusion of smalt in the overpaint, rare after the seventeenth century, suggests it was an early intervention. Subsequently, tests were undertaken to remove the overpaint from the garment. It was challenging, however, to see a clear separation between the overpaint and the original layer, and it was ultimately decided that full removal imparted too much risk. The dark overpaint was reduced slightly in some areas, and any discontinuities between overpaint and exposed original paint were compensated during retouching. The treatment of Portrait of a Woman offers an example of the important role analytical and imaging techniques play before and during treatment in identifying original versus non-original materials and making informed treatment decisions. By the same token, this project highlights the humbling physical limitations of treatment options that conservators often encounter despite having a thorough understanding of materials.

avatar for Kari Rayner

Kari Rayner

Conservator, National Gallery of Art
Kari Rayner is a 2015 graduate of the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University with a specialization in paintings conservation. Kari completed her fourth year internship at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.  In addition to interning at... Read More →

avatar for John Delaney

John Delaney

Senior Imaging Scientist, National Gallery of Art
John K. Delaney, Ph.D. is the Senior Imaging Scientist at the National Gallery of Art, where his research focuses on the development and application of remote sensing imaging methods for the study of works of art.
avatar for Kathryn Dooley

Kathryn Dooley

Research Scientist, National Gallery of Art
Kate Dooley is a Research Scientist in the Scientific Research Department at the National Gallery of Art and is interested in the spectroscopic identification and mapping of materials and chemical imaging methods. She graduated with her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Michigan... Read More →
avatar for E. Melanie Gifford-[Fellow]

E. Melanie Gifford-[Fellow]

Research Conservator for Painting Technology, National Gallery of Art
E. Melanie Gifford is a Research Conservator for Painting Technology at the National Gallery of Art where she uses technical analysis to consider the artistic decision-making process of Dutch and Flemish painters. She trained in art conservation at the Cooperstown Graduate Program... Read More →
avatar for Michael Palmer

Michael Palmer

Conservation Scientist, National Gallery of Art
Michael Palmer received his graduate training in botany from the University of Maryland in 1979. From 1980-1985 he held the position of wood researcher at Winterthur Museum and also taught in the conservation training program. Mr. Palmer joined the National Gallery of Art in 1985... Read More →

Thursday May 31, 2018 3:00pm - 3:30pm
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston


(Paintings) Unusual activities between image and panel: a sixteenth-century painting of St. Catherine in the Yale University Art Gallery
In his 1916 catalogue of the James Jackson Jarves collection, the art historian Osvald Sirén considered a small painting of St. Catherine of Siena and remarked that the picture “...has lost a good deal of its pictorial bouquet.” His sympathetic but dismissive words are one of the only published statements on this painting, which dates to sixteenth-century Siena and after a series of attributions is now being reconsidered as a late work of Sodoma. Overlooked by the mid-twentieth century cleaning campaign that affected the majority of the Italian paintings at Yale, the painting remained understudied until the fall of 2016, when it was pulled from storage for conservation treatment and analysis. The resulting project uncovered an unusual relationship between the image formed by the paint film and the support beneath it, which in turn became a determining factor in the treatment the painting received. Questions concerning how the image layer relates to the support immediately arose when examination of the painting began. X-radiography, followed by computerized tomography (CT) scanning, confirmed that worm tunnels had been filled with a radio-opaque material from the front of the panel, not the reverse. This observation establishes that the painting was either transferred to its present support, painted on an old, previously worm-eaten piece of wood, or painted on paper then mounted to old wood. The possibility of a transfer seemed, initially, most likely: no trace of paper has yet been found, the ground varies markedly in thickness as it extends across the panel, and certain areas of paint appear to rest directly on a thick, glue-like layer. However, the CT scan also confirmed that all but two of the largest disruptions to the surface of the painting correspond directly to knots in the present panel. Such connections between panel and paint film indicates that the support has long induced damage to the image it holds—an observation in tension with the aforementioned indications that the two materials were not always attached to one another. The working provisional explanation for the fraught relationship between image and panel is as follows: at a date prior to the painting’s purchase by Jarves in roughly 1850, the image layer was temporarily separated from the panel. The exposed face of the panel was coated with the observed radio-opaque material, and the image layer was re-glued to its original support, in what could be named an “auto-transfer.” The paper will explore this possibility alongside others. Precedents within the transfer literature will be described, including a little-discussed 1751 reference to an auto-transfer technique. Since the potential St. Catherine auto-transfer has a terminus post quem of 1850, this example could complicate the prevalent notion that nineteenth-century restorers considered the essence of the work of art to reside only in the image layer. 


Annika Finne

PhD student, Institute of Fine Arts New York University
Annika Finne received a M.A. in Art History and an M.S. in the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, with a speciality in paintings conservation, from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, in 2016. She is currently a Robert Lehman Fellow for Graduate Study in the... Read More →

avatar for Irma Passeri

Irma Passeri

Senior Conservator of Paintings, Yale University Art Gallery
Irma Passeri is Senior Paintings Conservator at the Yale University Art Gallery. She received her degree in the Conservation of Easel Paintings from the Conservation School of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, in Florence in 1998. Prior to working for the Yale Art Gallery, she worked... Read More →

Thursday May 31, 2018 4:00pm - 4:30pm
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston


(Paintings) Research and Conservation of Peter Paul Rubens, The Raising of the Cross, oil on paper, 1638
The Raising of the Cross, an oil painting on paper, was painted by Rubens for the production of an engraving by Jan Witdoeck and the image is based on the triptych of the same title, now in the Cathedral of our Lady in Antwerp and painted by Rubens in 1610-11. The sketch was acquired in 1928, as an 'oil on canvas' by the Art Gallery of Toronto as it was called, from the Holford Collection through Christie’s London. The painting was ‘cleaned’ by Thos. Agnew and Sons, London prior to the sale. Extensive restoration followed: first in 1937 in New York City and, after two thefts in 1954 and 1959, at the Art Gallery of Ontario. It is not known at what point the paper was lined to canvas but it is currently glue lined to cotton canvas. Restoration methods followed the traditions of painting conservation and the paper support at some point became obscured by extensive overpainting. Documentation and understanding of the work was essential to complex decisions of removal and the reconstruction of areas that suffered loss of form and detail. Interruptions in the surface tonality by discoloured retouchings and the discontinuity and flattening of form due to severe abrasion and loss of surface paint interfered with one’s appreciation of the work. Scientists at the Canadian Conservation Institute provided support in the initial investigations and at intervals in the treatment process by undertaking non-invasive x-ray fluorescence and analysis of samples as required. Samples were analyzed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, polarized light microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy/energy dispersive spectrometry and, in one case, by pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Infrared Reflectography (OSIRIS) was carried out by Rachel Billinge, National Gallery, London. Removal of restoration additions was challenging and time consuming and areas of ambiguity remain untouched. Recent work exposes at least some of the original intentions of the artist. Much of the paper support however modified in colour and texture, now contributes to the final image. The leached and damaged paint layers were minimally saturated with MS2A and retouching carried out with watercolour. The relationship of the sketch to the engraving and to the earlier painting will be discussed. Both informed the finish of the AGO painting. Several pentimenti remain visible and reveal the working method of the artist. The painting was reframed in a new frame to conceal the eight centimeter extension at the top border which is not by Rubens.

avatar for Sandra Webster Cook

Sandra Webster Cook

Conservator of Paintings, Historical and Modern, Art Gallery of Ontario
Sandra Webster-Cook became an employee of the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in 1987. She is currently responsible for the conservation of the historical and modern paintings in the collection of the AGO. Her work on the Canadian Historical collection included research on the paintings... Read More →

avatar for Kate Helwig

Kate Helwig

Senior Conservation Scientist, Canadian Conservation Institute, Canadian Conservation Institute
Kate Helwig has an honours B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Toronto and a Master’s degree in Physical Chemistry from Stanford University in California. She studied artifact conservation at Queen’s University and received a Master’s Degree in Art Conservation in 1992... Read More →
avatar for Dr. Alexandra (Sasha) Suda

Dr. Alexandra (Sasha) Suda

Curator European Art. Fraser Elliott Chair, Print & Drawing Council, Art Gallery of Ontario
Sasha Suda, who holds a PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, joined the AGO in 2011 as Assistant Curator, European Art. She was promoted first to Associate Curator, European in 2013, then Curator and R. Fraser Elliott Chair, Print & Drawing Council in 2015, and... Read More →

Thursday May 31, 2018 4:30pm - 5:00pm
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston


(Paintings) Evolon: Its Use from a Scientific and Practical Conservation Perspective
In recent years, Evolon®CR, made of a highly absorbent polyester/ polyamide microfilament fabric, has started to be used by many conservators for the removal of varnish layers on paintings. Its potential for controlled solvent application and dramatic reduction of mechanical action is particularly appealing. Moreover, it is especially suited for large-scale paintings. Several case studies about the use of Evolon®CR have been published, but up until now as far as we know, no in-depth scientific study into the behavior of Evolon®CR with solvents for conservation applications has been carried out. In this presentation preliminary results of testing of Evolon®CR will be presented. Moreover, a novel procedure for loading Evolon®CR with solvent for varnish removal will be demonstrated and an illustration given of how physical and visual documentation of varnish removal from the used sheets provide much data for further research on the removed materials using MA-XRF or GCMS.
In order to understand how Evolon®CR holds up in solvents, solvent extractions were analysed with Py-GC/MS. No extractables could be determined, however, micro and possible nano-scale-fibers (polyamide (nylon-6) and polyester) were found. From preliminary results of diffusion tests using a mock-up it appears that a fully saturated 'Evolon tissue'  first releases  solvent into the painting after which it reabsorbs it, together with available extractable components in the varnish/ paint (free fatty acids). The rate and depth of diffusion is dependent on the solvent used. This result was shown to be similar??identical to varnish removal using cotton swabs, but has the benefit that no mechanical action is involved.
After extensive testing, conservators at Restauratieatelier Amsterdam, developed a simple, but highly effective system of loading the Evolon®CR with specific amounts of solvent. This ensures that only the amount of solvent needed to swell and remove the varnish layer(s) is administered to the painting and that every part of the painting receives exactly the same amount of solvent. After timed trials with small strips of Evolon®CR using varying solvents on various parts of a painting, the most effective solvent at the least concentration for the least amount of time can be determined. The varnish removal can proceed with larger sheets.
During varnish removal, the location of the sheets on a painting can be documented. After evaporation of the solvent, the sheets of Evolon®CR can be scanned at high resolution and stitched to form a mosaic of Evolon®CR corresponding to the painting. Remarkably, areas of thicker varnish, retouching and fine details, such as the crack pattern of the paint can be observed in the used sheets. In order to get a better understanding the used sheets were scanned with a Bruker macro-XRF scanner. These results, along with those of other tests will be presented.
It can be concluded, that although further research is warranted, the application of solvent using the above method and Evolon®CR  makes varnish removal more efficient and controlled in comparison with varnish removal with swabs. Moreover, the used sheets of Evolon®CR provide an invaluable record of the removed varnish and retouching.

avatar for Susan Smelt

Susan Smelt

Junior Paintings Conservator, Rijksmuseum
Susan Smelt is a junior paintings conservator at the Rijksmuseum. She graduated in 2012 from the University of Amsterdam with an MA and Professional Doctorate in Conservation and Restoration of Paintings. During the two-year postinitial phase she worked at the Stichting Restauratie... Read More →

avatar for Robert Erdmann

Robert Erdmann

Senior Research Scientist, Rijksmuseum
With the latest techniques in the field of computer vision, machine learning, image processing, materials science and visualization theory Erdmann works to preserve, understand and make accessible visual artistic heritage. He is currently a Senior Scientist at the Rijksmuseum. Also... Read More →
avatar for Henk van Keulen

Henk van Keulen

Specialist Conservation and Restoration, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands
avatar for Katrien Keune

Katrien Keune

research scientist/associate professor, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam/University of Amsterdam
Katrien Keune is research scientist at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Netherlands. She also holds an appointment as Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and contributes to the Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science (NICAS) at a scientific... Read More →
avatar for Kathrin Kirsch

Kathrin Kirsch

Conservator of paintings and modern artworks, Restauratieatelier Amsterdam
Kathrin completed her degree at the University of Applied Sciences in Cologne in 2000, specializing in the restoration of paintings and sculpture. During her 5-year program, she completed a six-month internship at SKRA in 1997 (Stichting Kollektief Restauratieatelier Amsterdam) in... Read More →
avatar for Petria Noble

Petria Noble

Head of Paintings Conservation, Rijksmuseum
As Head of Paintings Conservation at the Rijksmuseum since 2014, Petria has expanded the department, laying more emphasis on research into the materials and techniques of artists' as well as those of conservation. Originally from Australia, Petria Noble carried out her post-graduate... Read More →
avatar for Andreas Siejek

Andreas Siejek

Painting Conservator, Restauratieatelier Amsterdam
Andreas Siejek is net als zijn collega Kathrin Kirsch afgestudeerd aan de University of Applied Sciences in Keulen als Diplom-restaurator voor schilderijen en geploychromeerde sculptuur. Andreas heeft jarenlange ervaring als zelfstandig restaurator. Hij werkte voor onder meer het... Read More →
avatar for Saskia Smulders

Saskia Smulders

Conservation Scientist, Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed
Saskia Smulders - de Jong is a conservation scientist at the Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed (Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands). After 7 years working as a biochemical and pathological laboratory analyst, Saskia Smulders - de Jong completed a Master's degree in Conservation... Read More →
avatar for Gwen Tauber

Gwen Tauber

Senior Paintings Conservator, Rijksmuseum
Gwen Tauber has been a painting conservator in the Rijks Museum since 1990 and is primarily concerned with the treatment of paintings, their examination and treatment documentation. She works in the midst of an interdisciplinary team comprised of conservators, scientists and curators... Read More →

Thursday May 31, 2018 5:00pm - 5:30pm
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston
Friday, June 1


(Paintings) The Blues of Jan de Bray's Judith and Holofernes: the technical study of two blue pigments and its impact on treatment
This paper will present the examination, analysis, and treatment of a seventeenth-century oil on panel painting in the collection of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The painting depicts Judith and Holofernes and was painted in 1659 by Jan de Bray, a Haarlem-based history and portrait painter. The painting was brought to the conservation department for examination and treatment in the summer of 2016. Although initial stages of the treatment were straightforward, the removal of many layers of discolored natural resin varnish revealed an unusual and confusing pattern of damage in the blue area of the bedspread. Extensive abrasions, some round and ring-shaped, were visible with the naked eye, and the presence of microscopic islands of whitish material suggested that either pigment discoloration or undesirable pigment-binder interactions had occurred. To more fully understand the damage and alterations, the blue area was subjected to intensive study. Non-invasive analytical and imaging techniques, in addition to micro-sample analysis, were employed, including infrared reflectography (IRR), Hirox digital microphotography, micro Reflectance Transformation Imaging (micro-RTI), cross-sectional analysis, macro X-Ray Fluorescence spectroscopy (MA-XRF), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM-BSE/EDS), Ultra High-Performance Liquid Chromatography-Photo Diode Array (UHPLC-PDA), and portable micro-Raman spectroscopy (pRaman) and X-Ray Diffractometry (pXRD). Two different blue pigments were identified: indigo was used in the first blue layer of the bedspread with lapis lazuli glazed on top. The whitish islands were characterized as lapis lazuli that were apparently degraded in the past. The authors propose a possible mechanism for the degradation of the lapis lazuli based on SEM-EDS data showing reduced levels of sulfur in the degraded areas. These data are then correlated with observations of the painting’s condition as well as with another recent publication of a painting by Hieronymus Bosch (Genbrugge 2016). Another significant finding includes the presence of alum in the indigo, which may explain the light blue fluorescence of the dark blue indigo paint under UV illumination. Consultation of contemporary source material provides additional context for the use of ultramarine and indigo pigments in seventeenth-century Dutch paintings. Ultimately, a more complete understanding of the materials present in the blue area and the ways in which later alterations to these pigments have affected the overall appearance of the painting informed the inpainting stage of treatment. This treatment step is discussed in light of these findings.

avatar for Gerrit Albertson

Gerrit Albertson

Conservator, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fairchild Center for Paintings Conservation
Gerrit Albertson is currently the Annette de la Renta Fellow in Paintings Conservation at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, working under the supervision of Michael Gallagher and Dorothy Mahon. A 2017 graduate from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation... Read More →

avatar for Dr. Yoshinari Abe

Dr. Yoshinari Abe

Lector, Department of Applied Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Tokyo University of Science
Dr. Yoshinari Abe is Lector of analytical and inorganic chemistry at Department of Applied Chemistry, Tokyo University of Science. He received a Ph. D. degree in chemistry from Tokyo University of Science in 2012 for studies in scientific investigation of blue colorants and pigments... Read More →
avatar for Dr. Art Proaño Gaibor

Dr. Art Proaño Gaibor

Materials Scientist - Specialist in Conservation and Restoration, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE)
Art Proaño Gaibor is a Specialist in Conservation and Restoration at the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands since 2017. He has a degree from the ROC chemistry school of Amsterdam since 2008. He is specialized in the analysis of organic colorants in textiles, synthetic colorants... Read More →
avatar for Anna Krekeler

Anna Krekeler

Paintings Conservator, Rijksmuseum
Anna Krekeler was trained as a paintings conservator at the University of Fine Arts in Dresden, Germany. Since her graduation in 2007, she has been working in the Rijksmuseum’s Painting Conservation Studio. Her main research interest is in the techniques and materials of artists... Read More →
avatar for Dr. Annelies van Loon

Dr. Annelies van Loon

Paintings Research Scientist, Rijksmuseum
Annelies van Loon is a paintings research scientist both at the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam) and the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis (The Hague). She received a master’s degree in chemistry, a post-doctoral diploma in the conservation of easel paintings from the Limburg Conservation... Read More →
avatar for Petria Noble

Petria Noble

Head of Paintings Conservation, Rijksmuseum
As Head of Paintings Conservation at the Rijksmuseum since 2014, Petria has expanded the department, laying more emphasis on research into the materials and techniques of artists' as well as those of conservation. Originally from Australia, Petria Noble carried out her post-graduate... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 8:30am - 9:00am
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston
  • Specialty Tracks Paintings
  • Cost Type Included with registration
  • Abstract ID 13355
  • Authors (in order) Gerrit Albertson, Anna Krekeler, Dr. Annelies van Loon, Dr. Art Proaño Gaibor, Dr. Yoshinari Abe


(Paintings) Gabriel Revel’s "Portrait of a Sculptor": a painting and treatment in transition.
The examination and treatment of Old Master works inevitably involves the interpretation and conceptual deconstruction of a complex overlay of visual evidence of the artist’s studio practice, natural aging of materials, past structural treatments, cleanings, restorations, and even associated damage. In the case of a portrait by the French baroque academic painter Gabriel Revel, these tasks were complicated by the dramatic revelation of compositional features in part obscured by the painter himself in pentimento. In particular, the rendering of a small statuette that had been covered by past restoration raised questions about the correct reading of the piece. As part of the creative evolution of the portrait, Revel modified the left forearm and hand position to make room for the inclusion of a classical statuary fragment of a head. Yet the positioning of the fingers is ambiguous and the painter’s intentions are unclear as to whether the portrait was meant to contain both of the sculptural fragments or just one. Digital X-radiography imaging of the substrate paint layers conducted at Oregon Health and Sciences University was hampered by an aluminum sheet concealed within the wax resin lining dating to the 1960s. Mammography, with a higher resolution for assessing subtle differences between densities in materials, also provided limited results regarding the original composition. Imaging was helpful, but failed to present a clear answer to questions that remained regarding the reconciliation of the various compositional features of the subject’s left hand and his possessions. Reversal of the lining and removal of the aluminum sheet were considered to improve imaging clarity, but eliminated as options due to the sustained structural stability of the lining materials. Ultimately, a bold curatorial decision was made to temporarily reveal all compositional elements of the painting. Although the composition has greater clarity and visual strength without the statuette, suggesting a reason why it was previously masked, the restoration choice was acknowledged as potentially a transitional state. It is hoped that bringing attention to the work will inspire research of Gabriel Revel, an artist with scarce dedicated scholarship, and therefore provide greater clarity regarding the artist’s intentions. The paper will discuss conservation of the portrait as a sum of multiple historic identities, and the decision making process that guided the treatment choices in the formal interpretation, perhaps ephemeral, of "Portrait of a Sculptor".

avatar for Nina Olsson

Nina Olsson

Owner, Precision Mat, LLC
Nina Olsson is a conservator of paintings in private practice and researcher established in Portland, Oregon in 2001. Since 2015, Nina is also president and co-founder of Heritage Conservation Group, LLC, a group of Portland-based conservators of various specialties. From 2011-2014... Read More →
avatar for Samantha Springer

Samantha Springer

Conservator, Portland Art Museum
Samantha Springer relocated to Portland, Oregon in 2015 to take the position of Conservator at the Portland Art Museum. While Samantha remains a generalist due to her responsibility for care of a broad collection, she has particular interest in preventive conservation, sustainability... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 9:00am - 9:30am
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston


(Paintings) Old World, New World: Painting Practices in the Reformed 1686 Painter’s Guild of Mexico City
In 1911, Emily Johnston de Forest, daughter of the founding president of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, John Taylor Johnston, donated her vast collection of tin-glazed earthenware to encourage the creation of a permanent display showcasing the artistic grandeur of colonial Mexican art. Despite her efforts, de Forest’s vision was not realized until 2013, when the Museum appointed a curator of Colonial Latin American Art. Since then, the Museum has organized exhibitions and acquired artworks from New Spain. For more than three hundred years this Spanish kingdom encompassed modern-day Central America up to the western half of the United States, as well as the Philippines. The Museum’s newly focused interest in the artistic output of this territory prompted the technical examination of two paintings, one by Cristóbal de Villalpando (ca. 1649-1714) and the other by José Sánchez (active 1686-95). From 1686 to 1688, these artists worked closely in the Painter’s Guild of Mexico City, scrutinizing the works of many young aspiring artists. In this capacity, they were responsible for shaping Mexican artistic practices well into the 18th century.

Cristóbal de Villalpando, the most productive painter of the New Spanish Baroque, developed an individual aesthetic that distinguished him from his contemporaries. The technical study of his Adoration of the Magi (1683) was carried out for a monographic exhibition on the artist that took place at the Metropolitan from July 25 to October 15, 2017. Unpublished and unknown to scholars, The Adoration has been in the collection of Fordham University since the mid-19th century, and has only recently been included into the artist’s oeuvre. The Marriage of the Virgin (ca. 1690) by José Sánchez was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum in 2016. It is one scene from a series depicting the life of the Virgin Mary, a subject frequently explored by painters in Spanish America. The paintings were created within a span of ten years, during which these artists served two years together as Guild examiners.

The results of our findings will be discussed in both regional and international contexts and will reveal the close connections and differences between preparation practices in Spain and its transatlantic territories. Of particular interest is the identification of ash in the ground layers of both paintings. This type of preparation is described by Francisco Pacheco in his 1649 treatise and has been identified in paintings of artists practicing in Madrid. This study presents material evidence that Mexican artists were following Madrilenian traditions, which had most likely been passed down through the Spanish painters that arrived in New Spain from the motherland.

This study comes at a propitious time. Art historical attention to New Spain has increased in the last decades but technical studies that contextualize the unique qualities of these important paintings are limited. Focusing attention on the individual contributions of New Spanish artists is essential to increase awareness of their artistic production, and create a body of knowledge about their material practices. 

Authors in Publication Order: José Luis Lazarte Luna, Dorothy Mahon, Silvia Centeno, Federico Caró, Louisa Smieska

avatar for José Luis Lazarte Luna

José Luis Lazarte Luna

Andrew W. Mellon Fellow, Department of Paintings Conservation, The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Department of Paintings Conservation
José Luis Lazarte Luna obtained a Master of Science degree from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation with a specialization in paintings. He is completing his second year as a fellow in the Department of Paintings Conservation, The Metropolitan Museum... Read More →

avatar for Federico Carò

Federico Carò

Associate Research Scientist, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Department of Scientific Research
Federico Carò received his PhD in Earth Science from the University of Pavia, Italy, where he worked on the characterization of natural and artificial building materials for conservation purposes. Since joining the staff of The Metropolitan Museum of Art he has investigated inorganic... Read More →
avatar for Silvia Centeno

Silvia Centeno

Research Scientist, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Department of Scientific Research
Silvia A. Centeno is currently a Research Scientist in Department of Scientific Research (DSR) at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), in New York, where her main responsibilities include the investigation of the material aspects of works of art, with a focus on paintings, works... Read More →
avatar for Dorothy Mahon

Dorothy Mahon

Conservator, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fairchild Center for Paintings Conservation
Dorothy Mahon, Conservator, received her MA in the history of art and a certificate of advanced study in conservation from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. She was appointed to the staff in 1981 and has conserved paintings spanning the collection, with emphasis on... Read More →
avatar for Louisa Smieska

Louisa Smieska

Andrew W. Mellon Senior Fellow, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Department of Scientific Research
Louisa Smieska received her PhD in Materials Chemistry from Cornell University in 2015 and then pursued postdoctoral research at the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS), where she developed expertise in scanning X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and the corresponding data analysis. Her... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 9:30am - 10:00am
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston


(Paintings) Material Matters Research for Rare Wall Murals revealed at the Historic Sinclair Inn Museum
In 2014 and 2016, Conservator Ann Shaftel enacted conservation treatment of recently discovered historic walls murals behind wallpaper at the 18th c. Sinclair Inn Museum, located in a former second floor function room. At least two layers of murals were found, the first comprising Masonic Lodge fluted columns painted in the four corners of the room, which may date to the late 18th or early 19th c. Subsequent layers of painting, done over the Masonic columns, comprise panoramic views on all four walls which appear to portray the Annapolis Basin in various scenes, together with a portrait of a man in Scottish military dress, believed to be painted in the 1830s or 1840s. Later painted details of Masonic iconography have also been identified. This room has written documentation as one of the oldest known Masonic meeting places in North America. In the Conservation Treatment of the fragile and unique wall murals, the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) was requested by the Annapolis Historical Association, the local community not-for-profit owner of the museum, to research and advise on the both the wall paintings and the historic structure that contain the paintings, prior to and during the work. Based on this research and conservation related advice, an understanding and appreciation of the properties of the materials of the building and its walls was developed which informed and guided the hands-on revealing and conservation treatment of the murals. Dating back to 1710, the building itself is the second oldest extant wood frame building in Nova Scotia and Canada, which is an open-concept museum today in which layers of history are revealed, with didactic labels, audio/visual interaction and local guides. The museum building itself is informed by materials and historic research. The conservation of the wall paintings was then prefaced by site visits, sampling and materials research carried out in the laboratory by Canadian Conservation Institute painting conservators and scientists, research that continued through the two years of the Conservator’s involvement in the hands-on process. Historic preservation specialists from CCI were twice invited to the site to research and advise on preservation measures for the building itself as well as for the murals once they were revealed. The range of materials research provided by CCI was augmented by simple on-site materials research undertaken by the conservator herself before and during the conservation treatment. Augmented chemical analysis on the wallpaper and pigments was provided by Saint Mary’s University Chemistry Department, for example the existence of arsenic in a wallpaper colour we were working with. This presentation demonstrates the vital importance of materials research for conservation treatment of multi-layered fragile wall paintings contained within an historic structure. Acknowledgements: Paul Marcon, Tom Strong, James Bourdeau, Jennifer Poulin, Elizabeth Moffatt, Dominique Duguay Report CCI 2015 Sinclair Inn Report 127794 Report CCI Final Technical Report Sinclair Inn 100351 Sinclair Inn Painted Room Report CCI 11-2011, Prof. Christa Brosseau, Department of Chemistry, Saint Mary’s University. 

avatar for John Ward

John Ward

Preservation Development Advisor, Heritage Interiors, Canadian Conservation Institute
John Ward is trained as a built heritage conservation architect who has worked with the Heritage Conservation Directorate, PWGSC, between 1996 and 2009, focusing on providing advice on federal heritage buildings including those on Parliament Hill, and since 2010 has been a Preservation... Read More →

avatar for Emma Claire Hartman

Emma Claire Hartman

Conservation Technician, The New York Public Library
Emma Hartman is currently a conservation technician at the New York Public Library. She has a BA in Chemistry and Art & the History of Art from Amherst College, and has held previous conservation internships at the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in private practice... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 10:30am - 11:00am
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston


(Paintings) An Obscured Beauty: analysis and treatment of "Dancing Girl" by Muhammad Baqir
In 2015 The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston acquired Muhammad Baqir's "Dancing Girl" dated 1192 AH (1778 AD), their first Islamic easel painting. While Baqir is primarily known for his miniature painting, this oil on canvas work is roughly 59 inches tall, 31 inches wide, with an arched top, and features a 3/4 size portrait of a female dancer. The subject is dressed in a patterned skirt with jeweled bodice holding castanets in both hands, with one arm raised above her head. She stands before an open window with a typical landscape behind and a bowl of pears to the side. Baqir was one of the first Persian painters to incorporate European motifs and techniques into his works, and his use of perspective in particular shows the intersection between West and East. Large canvas paintings are rare for this late Zand period and few of them have been studied in depth. As the techniques and materials of miniature painting do not always translate to larger works, analysis of Baqir's materials and methods in this painting compared to his smaller compositions contributes to a greater understanding of Persian oil painting in general. Immediately after acquisition research on the painting began to aid in the overall treatment. The painting has been examined with UVF and IRR imaging along with X-radiographs. Analysis was performed using XRF and FTIR, dispersed and cross sectional samples including fiber identification of the canvas, as well as SEM-EDX. The work has been lined and treated at least twice in the past, although no conservation records are extant. Analysis shows several layers of shellac applied throughout the years and it is speculated the painting had never before been thoroughly cleaned. Overall the surface exhibited a thick plastic appearance detracting from its dynamic qualities. Additionally the severe yellowing of the coating distorted the color relationships of the composition and obscured any subtleties of shading. Cleaning the painting was undertaken with caution as several areas contain vermillion, which proved to be sensitive to any solvents strong enough to solubilize the shellac. The jeweled decorations in the dancer's costume are composed of metal flakes with painted details on top. These areas are likewise extremely delicate and could not be cleaned with solvents. The cleaning therefore consisted of two phases. First using appropriate organic solvents in any non-sensitive areas, then the remainder of the painting was slowly cleaned mechanically. The painstaking cleaning revealed beautiful delicacies in the technique and restored much of the original aesthetic. Older campaigns of retouching and over-painting were also removed and new compensation was completed in a more discreet manner. The investigation and treatment of "Dancing Girl" provided important insights into the painting materials and techniques of the late Zand/early Qajar period as well as several practical methodologies for their continued preservation. The knowledge gained from this project regarding larger Persian oil paintings on canvas is an invaluable addition to Western conservation circles.

avatar for Melissa Gardner

Melissa Gardner

Conservator, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Melissa Gardner is the Associate Conservator of Paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston where she has worked for the past seven years in various roles.She is a graduate of the Conservation Center, IFA NYU primarily specializing in Old Master easel paintings. During her time... Read More →

avatar for Dr. Corina E. Rogge-[PA]

Dr. Corina E. Rogge-[PA]

Andrew W. Mellon Research Scientist, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Corina E. Rogge is the Andrew W. Mellon Research Scientist at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Menil Collection. She earned a B.A. in chemistry from Bryn Mawr College, a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Yale University and held postdoctoral positions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 11:00am - 11:30am
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston


(Paintings) Symbol, Record, Object: Treating the many facets of two Qajar Iran imperial portraits
This paper discusses the treatment of two life-size portrait paintings in the collection of The Smithsonian Institution, Sackler Gallery of Art: the 1859 three-quarter length portrait of Prince Jalal al-Din, son of Fath Ali Shah by Abu’l Hasan Ghaffari, and the 1915 full-length painting of Ahmad Shah and his Cabinet by Ustad Assadallah al-Husayni Naqqash-bashi. Both paintings are powerful examples of how Iranian artists responded to the influences of Western portraiture while maintaining a unique sense of stylized line and pattern. Each painting required structural and cosmetic treatment, with treatment goals including reversing extensive previous treatment and preparing the painting for exhibition. As symbols of the importance of these men, the portrait of Prince Jalal al-Din is unique in the artist’s exceptional rendering and adherence to a very traditional 19th century portrait presentation, while the group portrait of Ahmad Shah, standing in front of his brother and ten members of his cabinet, was clearly influenced by contemporary photographs. Historical record was further presented in Ahmad Shah’s painting by the later addition of inscriptions identifying the men, and the replacement of the original dated artist’s signature at the bottom of the image. Examination and treatment of Ahmad Shah’s painting sought to place these inscriptions in context with other restorations, and to inpaint damages to balance visual unity of the image with the evidence of the painting as historical document. The materials and construction of each painting also greatly influenced the recent conservation treatments. The earlier portrait of Prince Jalal al-Din had a very traditional, Western painting construction of stretched, pre-primed linen canvas. Later restorations followed with lining and large areas of fill and restoration. Although the present treatment reversed most of the earlier treatment, it still followed a traditional path of re-lining, filling and inpainting. The later painting of Ahmad Shah had a simpler, less conventional construction, and was painted on seamed sections of thin, cotton fabric with no preparatory ground. Later repairs included small local patches and isolated restorations more in keeping with a hanging textile than a traditional stretched painting. The present treatment included a modified padded panel/stretcher support which would allow an easel painting presentation while retaining the irregularities of the seamed support fabric. Both treatments were informed by the accumulated histories of the paintings and the desire to respectfully preserve their very different constructions while enabling the vitality of the subjects to be present to the viewer.

avatar for Nancy R. Pollak

Nancy R. Pollak

Conservator, Art Care Associates
Nancy Pollak is a 1991 MS Graduate of the Winterthur / University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation where she majored in painting conservation with a special emphasis in painted textiles. She also holds a BFA in painting from Seton Hill College. In 1996 she established her private... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 11:30am - 12:00pm
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston
Saturday, June 2


(Paintings) Deciphering intention from ageing: the use of archival material in the study and treatment of Winifred Dysart by George Fuller
The treatment of Winifred Dysart by George Fuller, from the collection of the Worcester Art Museum (WAM), exemplifies the importance of material study to conservation. The painting was selected for conservation in preparation for a rehang of WAM’s American collection. The painting presented several questions, relating to condition and intended appearance, which were addressed before the treatment began. Fuller was an important Massachusetts artist in the late nineteenth century and is well represented in New England collections. However, little technical research about his technique is published. Existing technical research focuses on the altered appearance of his paintings due to the deterioration of glazes. While true in many cases, this information may have had the unintended consequence of discouraging conservators and curators from treating and exhibiting his work. Fortunately, technical analysis, close examination, and primary source research illuminated the artist’s intended appearance of Winifred Dysart and allowed for a successful treatment to be undertaken. As a Tonalist, Fuller evoked an eerie atmosphere in his paintings creating what a contemporary critic described as a “soft golden hue” (Van Rensselaer, 1883) or in other cases a “sulfuric yellow tone” (Enneking, 1886). The yellow appearance of Winifred Dysart was thought to possibly be intentional and initially the decision was taken not to remove the varnish. However, nineteenth-century descriptions of the figure’s “pale lilac” dress suggest the artist did not apply a toned varnish. This, in addition to examination of Fuller’s works in other collections, prompted treatment to be reconsidered and varnish removal to ultimately be carried out. This talk will offer comparisons between Winifred Dysart and Fuller’s works where sulfuric yellow tones were clearly intentional, with the aim of providing guidance for future conservation efforts. Another complicated aspect of Fuller’s technique is the layering and scraping of paint to create texture. Receipts from Boston colorman A.A. Walker document the purchase of large quantities of coarsely woven “Heavy German canvas”. Winifred Dysart is painted coarse canvas which made distinguishing scraping from previous cleaning abrasion challenging. References such as early photographs, drawings, and the study of Fuller’s innovative technique proved essential to understanding and restoring the painting to its intended appearance. John Enneking recalled a scene in which Fuller, while critiquing his painting with fellow artists, changed the figure’s arms using crayons to adjust his composition. The original composition is visible in the x-radiograph, corroborating Enneking’s story. Fuller’s hasty reworking is distinguishable from the original paint layer, but thanks to Enneking we can be certain this reworking was done by the artist. Unfortunately, a previous restoration interpreted the artist’s reworking as unoriginal and attempted to remove it. The recent treatment addressed this damage, referencing Enneking’s description and an historical photograph, to reintegrate the damaged area. Understanding Fuller’s rich and complex approach to painting has proven essential to the successful treatment of Winifred Dysart. By sharing the observations and approaches taken during this treatment it is hoped that more works by this talented artist will be conserved and exhibited.

avatar for Roxane Sperber

Roxane Sperber

Clowes Associate Conservator of Paintings, Indianapolis Museum of Art
Roxane Sperber is the Clowes Associate Conservator of Paintings at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. She was previously the Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Painting Conservation at the Worcester Art Museum (WAM). Before coming to WAM she worked as a research conservator in the Technical... Read More →

Saturday June 2, 2018 10:00am - 10:30am
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston


(Paintings) Back to Blakelock: Casting new light on historic technical studies of paintings by Ralph Albert Blakelock
Ralph Albert Blakelock was an American landscape artist (1847-1919) famous for his paintings of moonlit Western landscapes painted in the late 1880s and early 1890s. Prices for his paintings soared and forgeries quickly multiplied after he was institutionalized with mental illness in 1899. In the present day, his works are seldom exhibited due to condition issues and concerns about authenticity. Beginning in 1969, Norman Geske, former director of the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Nebraska, and his team worked toward resolving the latter problem. They supplemented provenance research and documentation with systematic examination of the paintings, including neutron-activation autoradiography of several dozen works, a technique that was first applied to the study of paintings just a few years earlier. The Yale University Art Gallery’s acquisition of Moonlight (c. 1888), a Blakelock painting studied by Geske’s team and considered to have excellent provenance, represented a unique opportunity to revisit the examination and analysis of this painting and Blakelock’s mature oeuvre. Based on detailed examination of painting technique and materials of Moonlight and two moonlit landscape paintings from the Brooklyn Museum and the Metropolitan Museum for Art as well as close observation of other paintings from these and other collections, we propose new criteria for attributing paintings to Blakelock and begin connecting condition issues to material choice and use. To convey depth and subtle tones, the artist alternated numerous medium-rich transparent and pigmented translucent or opaque paint layers. The aging of the natural resin component in the paint layers contributed to the darkening of Moonlight, though the degree to which the artist may have anticipated and desired this is difficult to gauge. In addition to contributing to darkening, the resin content of the paint films has impacted the films’ mechanical properties – resulting in brittleness. The presence of resin-rich top layers also has important implications for solvent-based varnish removal or thinning treatments. This work utilizes a suite of imaging and instrumental analysis techniques (multispectral imaging, x-ray radiography, x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy spot measurements and large area mapping, Raman and infrared spectroscopies, pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, and scanning electron microscopy – energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy) to study Moonlight comprehensively, in the spirit of Geske and his team. Large area elemental mapping using micro-x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, motivated by the desire to visualize a newly-identified female portrait under the landscape, also helped clarify the paint application sequence in the landscape, especially at the boundary of the sky and tree foliage. The many thin layers used by Blakelock for his compositions, however, complicate the inference of specific pigments from non-destructive elemental analyses; as a result, cross-sections have proven highly valuable for visualizing layer stratigraphy as well as for enabling pigment identification. These results, in combination with large-area elemental maps, can now serve to revisit neutron-activation autoradiography results from the 1970s and reinvigorate scholarship and presentation of Blakelock’s moonlit landscapes.

avatar for Aniko Bezur-[PA]

Aniko Bezur-[PA]

Professional Associate, Wallace S. Wilson Director of Scientific Research
Anikó Bezur received a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Arizona. As a doctoral candidate, she completed internships at the Arizona State Museum's Conservation Laboratory, the Smithsonian Institution's Museum Conservation Institute, and the Getty Conservation... Read More →

Anna Krez

Postgraduate Associate, Yale University Art Gallery
Anna Krez, Paintings Conservation Fellow at the Yale University Art Gallery, earned her BA and MA from the program in conservation, technical art history, and conservation science at the Technical University of Munich in 2013 and 2015, respectively. During her studies she interned... Read More →

avatar for Mark D. Mitchell

Mark D. Mitchell

Holcombe T. Green Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture, Yale Art Gallery
Mark D. Mitchell, is the Holcombe T. Green Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture. His research interests in American art extend from the colonial period to the later twentieth century, with particular depth in landscape and still-life painting. Exhibitions organized by him at... Read More →
avatar for Meng Ren

Meng Ren

Ph.D. candidate, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Meng Ren is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences; Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Her doctoral research focuses on the organic residue analysis in archaeological... Read More →

Katherine Schilling

Associate Conservation Research Scientist, Yale University
Katherine Schilling is an associate conservation research scientist at the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage and an associate research scientist and lecturer in the department of Chemical Engineering at Yale University. She earned her PhD in chemical physics at the... Read More →

Saturday June 2, 2018 10:30am - 11:00am
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston
  • Specialty Tracks Paintings
  • Cost Type Included with registration
  • Abstract ID 13704
  • Authors (in order) Anna Krez, Anikó Bezur, Mark D. Mitchell, Meng Ren, Katherine A. Schilling


(Paintings) An American in Amsterdam – The relevance of the Louis Pomerantz Papers for the conservation history of the paintings collection at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
During her three-year research project into the conservation history of the paintings collection of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, the author discovered that the American conservator Louis Pomerantz (1919-1988) began his career in 1950, in the paintings conservation studio of the Rijksmuseum. Here Pomerantz learned the profession from chief conservator Henricus Hubertus Mertens (1905-1981). During this period, Pomerantz kept three notebooks, which are now kept at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art in Washington. The significance of these notebooks can hardly be overestimated, since Mertens did not keep any conservation documentation apart from occasional handwritten notes underneath or on the reverse of treatment photographs during his 40-year career at the Rijksmuseum. And such treatment photographs were only taken for very important paintings, or for paintings from outside the collection. The Pomerantz notebooks contain typed information as well as many drawings and photographs. They show the choice of materials and methods used to treat paintings although without explanation as to why one type of treatment is preferred over another. Indirectly, they demonstrate how the studio was run. Pomerantz also visited other departments, writing down various recipes, for example different glues used in furniture, paper, ceramic or glass conservation. Mertens had started working in the Museum in 1930. He was a young artist from the South of the Netherlands, with – as far as we know now – little knowledge about conservation. He seems to have learned the profession in the Museum as he went along. Shortly after the second World War, he treated Rembrandt’s iconic painting The Night Watch (1642), gaining an international reputation as the specialist in the treatment of Rembrandt paintings. After the war, the conservation department grew in size – before the war it had just been Mertens and a liner called Jenner – with Mertens as chief conservator. Between October 1950 to August 1951, Pomerantz did his one-year training there. This paper explores the relevance of this Amsterdam-America connection, both for the paintings conservation department of the Rijksmuseum, but also for the conservation practice in the United States. With the 2018 theme Material Matters in mind, it is a sad truth that in studying the material side of paintings, or any art object for that matter, conservation history is often forgotten, or discarded as insignificant. However, the materials and methods used in the former conservation treatments often play a very important role in the current appearance of paintings, as well in degradation processes of the original materials. When we say ‘materials matter’, we must realize that this includes conservation materials from the past. As an example of material that matters, the method of the wax-resin lining technique will be described. Pomerantz in his notebooks pays extra attention to this technique, which is also called the ‘Dutch’ method.

avatar for Dr. Esther van Duijn

Dr. Esther van Duijn

Paintings conservator / researcher, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
In 1996 Esther van Duijn finished her Art History study at the University of Utrecht with a M.A. During the subsequent five-year training program for paintings conservation at the Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg in Maastricht, the history of her own profession turned into... Read More →

Saturday June 2, 2018 11:00am - 11:30am
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston


(Paintings) Paintings Conservation Tips Session
Saturday June 2, 2018 11:30am - 12:30pm
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston


(Paintings) The use of modern paints by the concrete artist Ivan Serpa in artworks of the early 1950’s
This work debates the use of modern paints by the Brazilian concrete artist Ivan Ferreira Serpa (1923-1973) during the early 1950’s as an alternative to explore the constructivism principles in paintings. Two works will be discussed: "Forma em evolução" (1952) and "Quadrados em rítmos resultantes" (1953). Ivan Serpa was born in Rio de Janeiro and explored different painting techniques and materials during his short career. With Mário Pedrosa (1900-1981), the artist was responsible for introducing abstract art in Rio in 1949. He founded an art school for kids and adults in the "Museu de Arte Moderna" (MAM-RJ), created the vanguard movement "Grupo Frente" (1954-1957) and won in the "I Bienal of São Paulo" the “Young Painter Prize”. With "Grupo Frente" he taught precision in geometrical forms but was a prominent defender of the use of colors, in opposition to rigid principles created by the "Grupo Ruptura" (1952-1959) in São Paulo. Serpa's experience as a teacher, a graphic designer and a student in the advertisement course performed at "Fundação Getúlio Vargas" (1946-1948), probably enable him the precision and skills to build his constructive forms.

In "Forma em evolução" (1952) Serpa is possibly interested in bright, pure and translucent colors, as well as precise and flat surfaces, without brushstroke signs. This earlier composition is made of three basic layers: blue (ground layer), black and red. On the blue and red areas, it is visible how the artist applied several layers and possibly used masks to build precise lines and shapes. According to Pedrosa, during this period Serpa experimented industrial paints and brands like “Ripolin”. Serpa confirmed the use of this material because it was stable, self-leveling, and free from stains. On "Quadrados em rítmos resultantes" (1953), instead, the artwork is made by the contrast of vivid and dark colors, glossy and opaque surfaces. The geometrical areas are possibly painted with masking tape. The chemical analysis realized on "Forma em evolução" (1952) and "Quadrados em rítmos resultantes" (1953) revealed the presence of alkyd resin.

This result is consistent with household paints composition in the 1950’s in Brazil. Alkyd paint also had desirable properties for modern artists like Serpa: fast drying, glossy and self-leveling surfaces. Historical research on paint materials and chemical industry in Brazil showed that the importation of Ripolin paints occurred since the beginning of the XX century. Alkyd resins, instead, were imported in the mid-1940 and started to be manufactured in the early 1950’s. However, the availability of alkyd paint is noticed only in the Brazilian market in the mid-1950, suggesting that when the artist produced this group of paintings alkyds weren't available in Brazil. Serpa probably had to mix the resin, pigments, and solvents by himself; the effect of this process could be observed on the bubbles and pores formed on the surface of both paintings. This study aims to contribute to a better understanding of Ivan Serpa’s production as well as his artistic intention.

avatar for João Henrique Ribeiro Barbosa

João Henrique Ribeiro Barbosa

Substitute Professor, Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG)
João Henrique Ribeiro Barbosa has a BA in Cultural Heritage Artifact Conservation and Restoration from the School of Fine Arts at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (EBA-UFMG). He is in the second year of the master's program in Cultural Heritage Preservation offered by School... Read More →

avatar for Yacy A. Froner

Yacy A. Froner

Associate Professor, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais
Yacy-Ara Froner has a BA in history from the Federal University of Ouro Preto in Brazil (1988). She has a MA in Social History from the University of São Paulo (1994). She has a Ph.D. in Economic History with an emphasis in Cultural Heritage from the University of São Paulo (2001... Read More →
avatar for Giulia Giovani

Giulia Giovani

Associate Professor, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais
Associate professor in the Undergraduate Program of Conservation in School of Fine Arts in Federal University of Minas Gerais.
avatar for Alessra Rosado

Alessra Rosado

Adjunct Professor, UFMG School of Fine Arts
Dr. Alessra Rosado is a professor at the UFMG School of Fine Arts. She has a PhD in Art from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), a MA in Visual Arts from UFMG (2005), a certificate in the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Properties (CECOR) from the School of Fine... Read More →
avatar for Luiz A  C Souza

Luiz A C Souza

Associate Professor - Coordinator of LACICOR - Conservation Science Laboratory, Federal University of Minas Gerais
Dr. Luiz Souza holds a M.Sc. in Chemistry, with experimental work developed at the IRPA – Institut Royal du Patrimoine Artistique (Brussels, Belgium, 1986-87), where his work has focused on stone degradation and conservation techniques. The experimental work for his Ph.D. in Chemistry... Read More →

Saturday June 2, 2018 2:00pm - 2:30pm
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston
  • Specialty Tracks Paintings
  • Cost Type Included with registration
  • Abstract ID 13555
  • Authors (in order) João H. R. Barbosa, Luiz A. C. Souza, Giulia V. Giovani, Alessandra Rosado, Yacy A. Froner


(Paintings) American Abstract Expressionist painter, Sam Francis (1923-1994): Techniques and materials inform conservation treatment in the 21st century.
Debra Burchett-Lere, director of the Sam Francis Foundation and Aneta Zebala, conservator in private practice, have investigated Francis’s materials through ongoing conservation interventions of Francis works and in preparation for the 2011 release of Sam Francis: Catalogue Raisonné of Canvas and Panel Paintings, 1946-1994, published by UC, Berkeley. Paint samples were taken and analyzed from 34 paintings from the 1940s to 1990s for the upcoming GCI publication (2018 release) Sam Francis: The Artist's Materials. This in-depth study includes paintings from collections of Beyeler Museum, Basel and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Through systematic study and analysis, new information has come to light regarding unknown aspects of Francis’s practices to form the basis for this study. He enthusiastically used new commercial materials when they became available, and developed his own paints to achieve the saturation of color and desired consistency of paint. Newly discovered and existing photographs of his studios in Bern, New York, Paris, San Francisco, and Santa Monica, show a range of brands of materials that he used both on canvas and paper including watercolor, oil, acrylic, solvent-based acrylics, commercial acrylic emulsions, inks and custom-mixed acrylic dispersion paints. Before 1960 Francis used oil paints in a viscous medium, often with wax and resins. He began to use acrylic paint in the late 1950s, at times combining acrylic and oil paint with other water-borne media in one painting. This was not part of a structured system of experimentation, but rather he willed his paints to co-exist on the surface regardless of medium. Francis’s expansive use of blue paint created a misconception that he used many blue pigments. The extensive pigment analysis identified three blue colors: ultramarine, cobalt and phthalocyanine blue, and an unexpected twenty-one different reds in the works studied. He reinvented the physical act of painting, and made the most of drips, splatters and controlled surface accidents in works of all sizes. He manipulated surface tension of watered down paint and distinct optical and handling properties of acrylic and dispersion paints and created a range of surfaces varying from washes of color, tinted gesso, to pulsating thick orbs. Wet-in-wet and wet-over-dry techniques suggest both an immediacy and interval of time between painting stages. Understanding artist’s materials is a critical part of any conservation intervention. Many of Francis’s paintings exhibit highly chromatic surfaces, where chameleon-like colors exhibit metameric color change, in different light sources. Additional atypical effects such as bronzing, fluorescence or opalescence present in Francis works add to a challenging task of color matching of modern synthetic organic pigments. Large passages of exposed white priming make Francis’s canvases vulnerable to surface soiling and damage, which presents a constant problem of cleaning his acrylic paintings. In view of the scientific and conservation findings presented in the Tate publication Modern Paints Uncovered, it is critical to revisit the practices of aqueous-based cleaning of Sam Francis’s paintings. It is our intent to share discoveries in the artist’s studio practices to help understand thousands of paintings that make up his oeuvre.

avatar for Aneta Zebala

Aneta Zebala

Conservator, Zebala & Partners
Aneta Zebala is the founding partner of Zebala & Partners conservation firm, and Head Conservator of her Paintings Conservation Studio in Santa Monica, CA. She has Masters Degree of Paintings Conservation, Department of Easel and Wall Paintings Conservation (Academy of Fine Arts in... Read More →

avatar for Debra Burchett-Lere

Debra Burchett-Lere

Executive Director, Sam Francis Foundation
Author, curator, and fine art appraiser Debra Burchett-Lere first started working with Sam Francis in the mid-1980s when she was the director at Gemini G.E.L. (the renowned contemporary print publishing company in Los Angeles with Francis, David Hockney, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly... Read More →

Saturday June 2, 2018 2:30pm - 3:00pm
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston


(Paintings) Split Infinity, Herbert Aach - The Integrated Inpainting Method for Fluorescent Paint Layers
In this talk we will discuss the progress of finding a new method for the integrated inpainting of fluorescent paint layers. During the conservation of the fluorescent, monochrome paintings of Herbert Aach’s (1923-1985) Split Infinity series (1976-77), standard retouching methods lead to negative results. So far we were able to simulate the fluorescent color under stable light conditions, but as soon as ultraviolet increases, the inpainting became more disturbingly visible. Beside these color matching difficulties, its materiality structure differed strongly from the original paint layer. Aach was an artist who made his own pigments and paint-media. The fluorescent paint layers in these series appear very dry, fresco-alike and the saturation of the fluorescent pigment in the acrylic medium is much higher than the fluorescent paints sold in art supply stores. Valuable research by Stefanie De Winter (doctoral researcher (PhD art history) KU Leuven, Belgium) describes the material-technical and the specific visual differences between fluorescent and conventional pigments. Three significant characteristics became apparent during this empiric comparison: firstly, fluorescent pigments age much faster, after 10 years they start to lose their intensity; secondly, they are very transparent, due to their organic pigment composition, which makes mixing them with other colors not possible; thirdly, there are limits in binding fluorescent pigments with media, because of their high transparency they require a very clear medium. In this study, we want to find a new retouching-method that takes into account these specific characteristics and that enables inpainting with fluorescent pigments in the monochrome, fresco-like paint layers of Aach’s works. We are currently investigating these specific pigment compositions (used in Split Infinity paintings) through pigment analysis (Raman spectroscopy). The results will be compared with the spectra on fluorescent paints researched by Wim Fremout and Steven Saverwyns (KIK, Royal institute for art patrimonium Belgium) and further analyzed with the help of specialized chemists of the University of Antwerp. We are also testing artificially pigment aging processes, to simulate the original age of the fluorescent paint layer to ensure reduction of the fluorescent intensity that is causing the disturbing effect on the total image. For the retouching-media, we are testing dry-looking mixtures, like pastel, gouache and acrylic combined with structuring techniques. In a next phase the acquired information will be used for the case-studies on inpainting of these monochrome paintings. We expect to provide new insights in the understanding of fluorescent paint. This highly needed new method for retouching fluorescent paint layers will assist conservators to better restore and preserve these very bright, high sensitive and fast degrading paint layers.

avatar for Naomi Meulemans

Naomi Meulemans

Senior Modern Art Conservator, The Phoebus Foundation
Naomi Meulemans holds a Master from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, where she examined the pigment analyses of African incarnates on 19th century Flemish painting. She participated in the Art History BA program at KU Leuven, where she focused on the modern art market in NYC... Read More →
avatar for Giovanna Tamà

Giovanna Tamà

Senior Paintings Conservator, IPARC International Platform for Art Research & Conservation
Giovanna Tamà is a paintings conservator at IPARC (International Platform for Art Research and Conservation). She obtained a MA in conservation of easel paintings from the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts. In 2013 she acquired a postgraduate internship at the Royal Institute for... Read More →

avatar for Stefanie De Winter

Stefanie De Winter

PhD student, University of Leuven
Stefanie De Winter studied conservation of paintings at the Royal Academy of Antwerp, where she focused on conservation problems related to fluorescent paint layers. After a stint as a conservator in NYC, where she worked on contemporary American paintings (mostly Frank Stella), she... Read More →

Saturday June 2, 2018 3:00pm - 3:30pm
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston


(Paintings) Oxidized finger prints on Rudolf Stingel's golden, highly reflective ‘Carpet Paintings’
Italian-born American artist Rudolf Stingel is well known for his monochromatic abstract oil paintings with delicately textured, silver or golden-iridescent surfaces. Since the late 1980s, the artist has developed the technique from solely tulle-textured effects on oil paint to that of incorporating ornamental stencils, now often referred to as his 'carpet paintings.' These paintings are extremely vulnerable to oxidation. Accidental touching during handling will cause the later appearance of dull, corroded stains on these highly reflective surfaces. The metallic enamel paint he used throughout the years to achieve the metallic effect on various colors of oil paint was initially developed for sealing industrial metal appliances. The copper-zinc alloy pigments in this paint have a leafing character, which is based on their disk shape and repellent character when in contact with the non-polar solvents in the paint system (best achieved using Xylene). In a painted film, the pigments will orient themselves in high concentration on the surface (leaving the body of the film pigment-free), and seal the film with a fine, almost solid layer of pigment flakes. This creates a highly reflective, gilded character to the surface. Since the paint was developed for industrial purposes only, the durability of its visual properties was of no concern to the fabricator. These special-effect pigments are extremely vulnerable to outside oxidants – whether air borne or physically transferred – as they are not embedded and protected in their binding medium. Consequently, the paint layer will gradually shift from a cool golden tone to a bronzed appearance over time. Fingerprints, water drips or scuff marks further accelerate the oxidation process, turning the surface dull, dark brown or greenish. At Contemporary Conservation Ltd., we are often faced with these locally oxidized areas, especially on the golden paintings. Normal avenues of treatment – chemical reversibility, physical removal of material, or the addition of material - are not applicable. The corrosion is irreversible; polishing or sanding are only destructive; and even local inpainting or gold-leaf application cannot recreate an sufficiently brilliant appearance. Even though the artist kindly provided samples of his paints, their golden tone no longer matches the naturally aged appearance of the original work. The proposed presentation will tell the story of the investigation undertaken to develop a conservation treatment for these works. Several obstacles were faced, including finding a method to protect the intact, yet naturally aged surrounding, and enacting appropriate health and safety measures when using the paint system which contains mostly Xylene. In an effort to match the gold to the aged condition on a particular work the leafing pigments were artificially aged outside of the paint system. Transferring the treated pigments back into a solvent system revealed the loss of the leafing character of the pigments, which was accommodated by separating the application of binding medium and pigments. Additionally, due to the fact that the paint's recipe was changed in 2004, the artist is now exploring similar tests himself, in order to adjust the system to his desired tone and aesthetic choices.

avatar for Mareike Opeña

Mareike Opeña

Associate Conservator, Contemporary Conservation Ltd
Mareike Opeña joined Contemporary Conservation in 2010. She graduated from the University of Applied Sciences Cologne/ Institute for Conservation Sciences in 2009 with an emphasis on paintings and sculptures. She wrote her thesis, "The Effects of Solvents on the Physical Properties... Read More →

Saturday June 2, 2018 3:30pm - 4:00pm
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston


(Paintings) Vibration-Induced Mechanical Damage in the Canvas Paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe as a result of Road and Air Transport
In 2012, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum concluded a year-long, three venue touring exhibition of 75 canvas works of art by Georgia O’Keeffe. Despite the clear evidence from courier logs and temperature, humidity and shock data loggers that no harmful shock or environmental extremes had occurred in transit, post exhibition examinations and imaging revealed that several works had suffered both new and existing crack and interlayer cleavage propagation. While museum conservators understood that physical and mechanical damage to art in transit is cumulative, existing literature suggested that repeated exposure to low amplitude, randomly generated vibration accelerations commonly encountered in fine art transport trucks and airplanes should pose little danger to works of art. Yet conservators discovered a strong correlation between the number of miles of motor transport with historic and contemporary crack and cleaving propagation in its paintings. Because the museum was traveling its collection far more frequently each decade than it had previously and because that it had no data on the natural frequency of the paintings in its collections, nor an understanding of the vibration frequencies transmitted by art transport vehicles or attenuated by fine art crates, it began a study to use calibrated three axis accelerometers, laser displacement meters and laser vibrometers to gather a more complete understanding of the mechanics of transit vibration induce- damage in art transit. The museum used acceleration measurements, displacement measurements, discrete cosine transform and Fourier fast transform to understand the power distributions of both facsimile paintings and, ultimately collection paintings, as well as truck beds, walls and various crating and cushioning methods. The findings fundamentally changed the museum’s understanding of vibration induced damage to canvas paintings, the vibration spectral power distribution of fine art transport vehicles, and the successes and failures of framing, backing, crating and loading methods to attenuate vibrations across damage- sensitive frequencies. The presentation will summarize the methods, results, canvas movement visualizations and conclusions of the 5 year study.  The tendency of traditional foam-cushioned wood crates to generate additive interference and amplify canvas displacement excursions at frequencies surrounding the natural frequency of the paintings suggests the need for new engineering approaches for the protection of canvas paintings during transit. Likewise, the vibration damping effects of sealed frame backings and glazing in frames will also be described.

avatar for Dale P. Kronkright

Dale P. Kronkright

Head of Conservation, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and Research Center
Dale Kronkright is presently the Head of Conservation at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and has been the head conservator for the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum since it’s inception in 1997.  Dale's current research focuses on vibration-induced damage to art in transit and quantitative... Read More →
avatar for Vikrant Palan, PhD.

Vikrant Palan, PhD.

Southwest Territory Manager, Polytec, Inc


Saturday June 2, 2018 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston