Saturday, January 22, 2011

Welcome Stewards! Welcome to the Treasure Trove!

            A work of art is like a treasure. Once it leaves the artist's studio or workshop, it will hopefully be valued enough to be "used" by an admirer or preserved in a gallery's collection. What happens during its lifetime creates a startling image of both its original time and the values that the world places upon it. 
            There are many hypothetical situations that can happen to any work of art within its lifetime.  For example what if the owner decides cuts it in half to accommodate it into their living room above the mantelpiece? This could mean that the owner might trim off the artworks edges or cut into individual fragments.  There are numerous examples of this, including the tragic history of the Pistoia Santa Trinità. Commissioned in 1457 with Francesco Pesellino and finished within Fra Filippo Lippi's workshop, this work had experienced severe fragmentation during its lifetime.
Example of the Fragmentation 
Altarpiece as restored and on loan at the National Gallery
              Then there is an issue of additions. What if its owner's passion inspires him to commission further additions? Often additions are made to suit the taste for the time. For instance, the National gallery mentions one particular painting that changed drastically in appearance over time. Originally the painting was identified as a painting of Palma Vecchio, with a sweet innocent brown haired girl as its sitter.  The painting, however, after its cleaning presented a different image.  Now the “Women at the Window” presents a seductive image of a blonde hair woman without the attribution to any artist.  
Italian, North, 'Woman at a Window', probably 1510-30, before restoration
Before Restoration in 1978
Italian, North, 'Woman at a Window', probably 1510–30
"Women at the Window" (circa 1510-30) 
              These are just a few examples of what happens to a work of art within its given lifetime. After the work leaves the studio, a great amount of history may change it.  Even if the work luckily gets absorbed into a collection, its survival is still not guaranteed.
               Caring for an object’s history and preserving it for the future comes into the territory of the conservator.  A conservator must learn as much as he or she can about works of art: from how they have been valued over time, in the present day, and how to keep this value within the future.
              During this semester, I will try to perform the duties of a novice conservator.  To do this I will be organizing, writing and compiling amble conservation reports for both the database and paper filing.  Throughout the semester you will see me post interesting stories about the collection, with supplements of a broader context of art history and conservation.           

Primary Texts I will be using: 
Appelbaum, Barbara. Conservation Treatment Methodology. Oxford: Elsevier Ltd, 2007.
Bomford, David., with Jill Dunkerton and Martin Wyld. A Closer Look: Conservation of Paintings.     
           London: National Gallery Company Limited, 2009.
Caple, Chris. Conservation Skills: Judgement, Method and Decision Making. New York: Routledge, 2000.
Stokstad, Marilyn. Art History, 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc., 2008.
As well as a few articles, and other supplements/museum resources.  

I will also be including random songs of the day.  I am the kind of person that usually enjoys listening to music or other noise while I work.  These songs are the ones that have stood out to me during the time of the blog post.  

Random song of the Day: Robyn, Call Your Girlfriend

*all images are from the National Gallery's website.

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