Conservation

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.

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.

Hol(e)y Moly!: Historical Damage and Repairs in Medieval Manuscripts

When looking at a medieval manuscript, it is often the illuminations that catch the eye—colorful figures rendered in miniature, gleaming gold backgrounds, ornate initials that twirl and bloom across the margins. But beyond the illuminations, and even beyond the text, the substrate itself merits closer inspection.

Ingres at the Morgan: Materials and Methods

Whether he was making portraits of family and friends or preliminary studies for important history paintings, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780–1867) created drawings of great subtlety and nuance. Close examination of the paper and media allows us to glimpse the working methods of one of the greatest draftsmen and portraitists in French history.