The San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA) opened "Art and Empire: The Golden Age of Spain" this May. In it, a gorgeous oil on canvas titled Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist by Francisco de Zurbarán is featured. Painted in 1658, it's a magnificent example of a devotional painting by this Spanish artist.
Exhibition goers may not realize that the painting had been removed from the SDMA galleries in 2017 to undergo a meticulous conservation treatment.
Over the years, the varnish on the paint surface had aged considerably, yellowing the Spanish master's luminous color palette underneath. Thanks to funding from a generous SDMA donor, the painting came under the care of BACC's conservator, Alexis Miller, who completed technical analysis with infrared reflectography and x-radiography to fully understand the layering structure of the painting and the condition of those layers before embarking on treatment. She then consolidated the paint layer and lifted the varnish to reveal the vibrant, warm color tones that Zurbarán had originally intended.
The painting can now be seen in all of its glory inside Art and Empire, on view at the San Diego Museum of Art through September 2.
You can learn more about what went into conserving and restoring this masterpiece on August 23, 2019 at 7 pm when Dr. Michael Brown, Curator of European Art at SDMA, and Alexis Miller, Chief Conservator of Paintings at BACC come together for an in-depth discussion at the James S. Copley Auditorium at SDMA (buy tickets, here)
Featured in this post: Francisco de Zurbarán, Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist, 1658. Oil on canvas, Gift of Anne R. and Amy Putnam. 1935.22.
BACC's Assistant Paintings Conservator, Bianca García, recently presented a talk on 14th Century Italian paintings at the Timken Museum of Art as part of its docent training.
Garcia spoke about the traditional materials and techniques used to create egg tempera panel paintings with gilded backgrounds, a technique that was common during that time. She also brought some of the materials and tools (like gold leaf and powdered pigments) to share with the docents so they could get an idea of what the pigments and layers of the painting look like before the piece is finished.
Learn more about the Timken's collection, here.
After a year-long conservation treatment of California Impressionist Edgar Payne's mural Settlement, the painting can now be viewed at the Laguna Art Museum for their exhibition California Mexicana: Missions to Murals, 1820 - 1930!
The mural was originally one of four, installed in 1935 to adorn the walls of the New Lynn Theater, which later became the Laguna South Coast cinema.
For more information about BACC's treatment, the exhibition, and the painting, see the great article written by The Laguna Beach Indy.
BACC's Assistant Conservator of Paintings, Morgan Wylder, presented her research on the materials and techniques of late-19th century French painter Paul Gauguin at the Musée d'Orsay, Paris. The two-day long symposium "Gauguin, le droit de tout oser" accompanied the opening of Gauguin l'Alchemist exhibition at the Grand Palais, Paris.
The Center recently treated Belle Baranceanu's full-scale cartoon drawings that were used to create The Seven Arts mural at La Jolla High School in 1939-40. The mural was destroyed when the high school was demolished in 1975, and these drawings are all that remain from the New Deal commissioned project.
Check out the coverage in the La Jolla Light to learn more about the exhibition and conservation approach, or visit the La Jolla Historical Society.
The Balboa Art Conservation Center finished an extensive conservation treatment of Belle Baranceanu's "Mission Hills," a 1930s landscape/cityscape of San Diego by beloved San Diego artist Belle Baranceanu.
In the before picture, you can see major paint loss and lifting and loose paint caused by acute water exposure on the right side of the painting.
For those interested in the care and preservation of digitally printed materials check out the Image Permanence Institute. BACC was happy to help facilitate a 2-day workshop presented by Senior Research Scientist, Daniel Burge during which participants learned how to identify and preserve the most common digital types.
Mellon Fellow in the Conservation of Paintings, Bianca Garcia attended the International Symposium for Paintings on Copper (and Other Metal Supports) in Valencia, Spain. The symposium was the first international forum to discuss the construction, technical examination of, and conservation of paintings on metal supports.
Painted around 1865 and purchased as part of the original Crocker Art Museum collection, The Harem Taking a Walk by 19th Century German painter Wilhelm Gentz needed a lot of love and attention when the BACC was asked to breathe renewed life in to it. A grant from the National Endowment for the Arts funded the careful restoration work required to address the 140 years of gallery time and the painting's long stint in storage.
During the process, technical imaging and analysis revealed the artist had done something unusual to the painting, having scraped and repainted portions of the background, notably in the top left corner. It’s unknown why Gentz returned to the work in such an impromptu manner, but the result brings detail that may have been missing before. Especially beautiful, colorful reflections in the foreground water were revealed by the conservation, as well.
The Crocker Art Museum developed a curriculum enrichment guide around this restoration to help introduce students to the process of art conservation. It can be viewed here.
(Text adapted from the Crocker Museum of Art Facebook page)