Thursday, October 28, 2010

All that Glisters

A client referred to me by an antiques dealer brought in the above vintage museum frame.  The job he wanted done was relatively simple:  change the mat, put in museum glass, and put the original art back in.  After a brief consultation, the client decided to instead insert a wide fillet into the existing frame rather than a mat.

This is the original mat.  I wanted to point out the orangey color of the bevel.  This is the number one indicator that the mat is not acid free.  In fact, the orangeness is caused by acid oxidation.  Also, there is discoloration on the outside edges of the mat, which was under the rabbet of the frame.  This is an indication that there was no uv protective glazing on this mat in its original setting.  I mention this not because the original framing was inferior (quite the contrary!  The art was mounted using very proper techniques and the frame itself is magnificent and very high quality.), but because this was originally framed before acid free products and uv glazing was invented.  It is a really good idea to change old or inferior mats and glass to more modern conservation materials before irreparable harm comes to valuable art.

So, I chopped and installed the fillet.

And now for the art.  Below is the art as it arrived in the shop in its original mat.

 And here it is completely unframed.  Note the discoloration of the paper.  We know it was in an acidic environment, but it is also very old.

and clearly original art.

The client recently acquired this piece and had not yet had it authenticated.  The art is unsigned.

This is the plaque on the original frame.

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) is a French Master.  A Neoclassicist.  Le Grande Odalisque (below) is perhaps his most famous painting, though his portrait graphite drawings are among his most well regarded works. 

To be clear, I do not authenticate or appraise art, but naturally, I want to know what it is that I'm handling.  I looked into the artist's catalogued works to see if there was anything similar in style, theme, or materials.

Virgin of the Adoption

Niccolo Paganini

Study for Vicomtesse d'Hausonville, born Louise Albertine de Broglie

So now you have all the clues that I have.  Who knows?  I may have just handled the real deal.

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