Conservation

Bound for Versailles: Investigating the Jayne Wrightsman Bookbindings Collection

In anticipation of the upcoming exhibition Bound for Versailles: The Jayne Wrightsman Bookbindings Collection, on view June 25 through September 26, 2021, our conservators from the Thaw Conservation Center took a close look at techniques used in creating these elaborate works of art.

Color and Curious Creatures: Fifteenth-Century Block Books at the Morgan

The Morgan owns the largest collection of block books in North America and they were some of J. Pierpont Morgan’s earliest acquisitions. These are books in which both the images and the text are carved from a single woodblock, hence the term block book.

Color and Curious Creatures: Fifteenth-Century Block Books at the Morgan, Part II

An earlier post discussed some of the traditional colors that appear in the Morgan’s block books. In most cases, the hand-applied colors are typical of the dyes and pigments seen in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. However, a few unexpected pigments were discovered during the study of these fifteenth-century books, enabling a better understanding of how some of them were changed over the centuries.

Conservation treatment of Haydn's The Seven Last Words of Our Savior on The Cross (Cary 508)

In 1786, the Clergy of the Cadiz cathedral in Spain commissioned Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) to compose The Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross. In 1791, a copyist’s manuscript of the full orchestral score, with annotations by Haydn himself was prepared for a series of concerts to be held in London.

Corners and Edges: The Physical Evidence of Édouard Vuillard’s Sketchbooks

Several of the drawings included in Édouard Vuillard: Sketches and Studies come from sketchbooks spanning the artist’s entire career with dates as early as the 1890s to the 1930s. This exhibition provides the unique opportunity to learn about Vuillard’s preferred sketching materials. While preparing the drawings for installation, I looked for connections between them, with particular attention to similarities and differences in the physical evidence.

Dürer and the Woodcut

The woodcut, one of the earliest printmaking techniques, became popular in Europe around 1400. Woodcuts are produced by carving an image into a block of wood, usually a hard fruitwood, cut parallel to its grain. Only the lines and shapes of the drawn design are left standing in relief; all other areas of the wood are carefully excised with sharp woodworking tools, such as gouges, chisels, and knives.

Edgar Degas

In the early 1890s, when Degas' work became increasingly less naturalistic, he produced a series of pure landscapes that freely interpret the scenery he encountered on his way to visit the painter and printmaker Pierre-Georges Jeanniot in the village of Diénay, near Dijon. There Degas produced about fifty monotypes, which he enhanced with vivid pastel work.

From Drawing to Print: Abraham Bloemaert's Danaë Receiving the Golden Rain

Until the nineteenth century it was common for works of art to be disseminated in the form of prints. But how was an artist's work transferred from paper to printing plate? In this post, we take a close look at a seventeenth-century drawing by the Dutch painter, draftsman, and printmaker Abraham Bloemaert (1564–1651) and the engraving derived from it.