Thursday, May 21, 2015

Before and After

before restoration

after restoration, hanging in our house in New Hampshire
We call her "Madonna of the Half Moon"!
We have no date for this painting, and the artist is unknown

detail of the Madonna's face

My husband and I brought many pieces of art, books, family photographs, and other small objects from his family home in Puerto Rico to our new house in New Hampshire.  The tropical rain forest weather there was damp and hot.  The house was located in San Juan, with open windows to the weather and dirty city air.  It was only a block from the beach, so the salt air ruined appliances, plumbing and many other objects in the home.  The heat, humidity and time (over 30 years) had damaged some of the art, and spoiled many of the family photographs.

These professional movers packed up and flew the household objects
 from Puerto Rico to New Hampshire.
You can see the Madonna painting behind the movers head in this photograph.
It was so dirty we could barely see the image! 

This was one painting that we decided we should have restored.  One of my friends from the Londonderry Historical Society had been a conservator at Sturbridge Village, and he recommended that I find a fine art conservation lab through the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC).

My father-in-law was orphaned as a little boy, so he was raised and educated by the Jesuit Fathers in Cuba and South America. Later, he used to travel around South America and Europe and collected art.  This painting is one he bought in Peru about 25 years ago and brought back to Puerto Rico.

Through the AIC directory we found Mary Lou White, of the Fine Arts Conservation Lab in Raymond, New Hampshire.  She took on the project of cleaning up this painting.  My mother-in-law and husband remembered what it looked like, but I had never seen the image.  The heat and humidity of San Juan, Puerto Rico had darkened many layers of natural resin varnish on this painting, which Mary Lou estimates to be from the 1800s.  She cleaned off the many layers of varnish and applied a modern, synthetic varnish which will not darken over time.

Doesn't the Madonna look great!  The texture of the fabric on her dress is amazing.   If you have a work of art you need restored, I highly recommend you find a restoration expert through the AIC.  There is probably one near you.

The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works: 

Mary Lou White, Fine Arts Conservation Lab in Raymond, New Hampshire 603-895-9351

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Copyright (c) 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

1 comment:

  1. It is SO beautiful! It is utterly amazing what was found under all that dirt and varnish.