The conservation of a 17th century
In June last year we sold a portrait of the 17th century Scottish soldier Sir John Hepburn, founder of the Royal Scots, who died in 1636 in the service of the King of France. We were slightly disappointed at the time that it had only made a low-estimate £7,000, but we recognised that its condition would have deterred many prospective buyers.
In the last twelve months the picture has
undergone conservation in the Middleton Cheney studio of Ruth Bubb. Apart
from the removal of extensive overpainting in the background, the canvas has
been returned to its original size by the removal of two later
extensions. I thought others might like to see what can be achieved by a
sympathetic and skilled conservator, and the fact that the work was carried out
locally meant I was able to see it at various stages. The following six
photographs - reproduced by kind permission of its owner - show it (i) as it
left Holloway's; (ii) after the removal of its frame; (iii) after removal of
the overpaint; (iv) with the extensions to the canvas removed before
retouching; (v) after varnishing; and (vi) in its new frame.
Fake or Fortune?
Those of you who have enjoyed the recent BBC series as much as I have - with its potent mixture of sleuthing, chicanery and money - will enjoy the blog (updated rather more frequently than I can manage) of the arch-sleuth Bendor Grosvenor. It is probably tempting fate for an auctioneer to recommend it - given that most of his discoveries are made at the expense of a man with an ivory hammer - but I'm prepared to take the chance, and in any case it is by no means confined to reporting what he and Philip Mould have just found.
Read it at www.arthistorynews.com
Sadly no replies at all to my piece
below on Pugin.... obviously a trade secret that no-one wants to
Pugin's porcelain altar vases
Can anyone tell me why Pugin is generally thought to have designed these porcelain altar vases? An example of the larger one, marked - unlike the one here - for Derby in the Robert Bloor period, was published by Paul Atterbury in his 1995 Bard Graduate Center catalogue A. W. N. Pugin: Master of Gothic Revival, when he specifically said that there are no known records relating to either the design or Pugin's possible association with the Robert Bloor factory at Derby. The smaller one, again unmarked but almost certainly from the Minton factory, does not seem to have been published although examples have appeared at auction with firm attributions to Pugin, possibly based on the attribution of the larger vase to him.
I suspect the answer lies in the decoration - the 'MR' monogram for the Blessed Virgin Mary appears in Pugin's Glossary of Ecclesiastical Ornament, as does the fleur-de-lys border. The vases pre-date the book, so unless Pugin had derived those decorations from earlier sources it must be fair to assume that if he didn't actually design the vases he certainly designed their decoration. Is this the right assumption?