Painting Restoration Before the Restauration: The Origins of the Profession in France Aby A. Massing The art of painting restoration is almost as old as the art of painting itself. Accidents and time inevitably alter the appearance of a painting, and these changes begin as soon as it leaves the artist's easel. Purposeful alterations due to changes in taste have also contributed to transformations that paintings often underwent. Clearly the type of restoration procedures considered ethically acceptable have changed over the centuries. From the Renaissance until the end of the nineteenth century, European paintings were considered as two-dimensional illusions of a three-dimensional space, and any disruption to this illusion was considered as damage requiring repair. There was no acknowledgement of painting supports as an integral part of a picture; only the paint layer and the subject represented were appreciated. As a result, panels were often thinned and cradled in order to flatten the painted surface so that the image depicted could be viewed with less distraction. Supports were even considered replaceable. Total transfer of a painted surface onto a new surface was an acceptable procedure in the eighteenth century even until the mid-twentieth century. Invisible retouching was used with the intent of returning the illusion of the painted surface to its original state; the history of the work was not important. Until recent times, it was even acceptable to alter the format of a work of art to fit a frame or a space on the wall. Traditionally, if a painting was accidentally damaged or if adjustments were required, a painter was entrusted with this task. In the past, the professions of painter and painting restorer overlapped, and both were trained as apprentices. Gradually the professional painting restorer appeared in Europe, and by the mid-eighteenth century, the profession was established. Earlier examples of professional restorers, especially in Italy, have been recorded while in other European countries, such as Britain, the career of the professional painting restorer began much later. During the later part of the eighteenth century in France, the painting restorers of the French Royal Collection became celebrated throughout Europe for their achievements. The political situation had an important influence on the development of the profession in France. The reigns of Francois I (1515-47), Louis XIV (1643-1715), Louis XVI (1774-93), and then the coup detat by Napoleon Bonaparte and the First Napoleonic Empire (1804-14) led to an increasing centralisation of the French Empire. The arts were meant to reflect the power of the state; thus Louis XIV and his political advisor and Surintendent from 1661 to 1685, Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619-83), became the patrons of the French Academie de Peinture et Sculpture founded in 1648. A revision of the Academys statutes in 1665 required students to submit annually drawings that focused on the heroic actions of the king. Paintings conferred status on their owner in this instance the king and the French nation. It then became a necessity to have the paintings on display looking their best, and the skill of the French painting restorers was even used as a justification for Napoleons policy of confiscation of works of art from all over Europe. The relationship between the French governments administration, firstly under the Ancien Regime, then under the new Republic, and the painting restorers they employed and supervised is related in this book. The manner in which changes occurred involves colourful personalities whose stories are often amusing and sometimes poignant, but above all they help us to understand the present-day situation. For during the turbulent years of the French Revolution new patterns emerged, which to a large extent remained in place in France for over two centuries.
From the INTRODUCTION:
A revised survey of Rembrandt's complete painted oeuvre.
The question of which 17th-century paintings in Rembrandt's style were actually painted by Rembrandt himself had already become an issue during his lifetime. It is an issue that is still hotly disputed among art historians today.
The problem arose because Rembrandt had numerous pupils who learned the art of painting by imitating their master or by assisting him with his work as a portrait painter. He also left pieces unfinished, to be completed by others.
The question is how to determine which works were from Rembrandt's own hand. Can we, for example, define the criteria of quality that would allow us to distinguish the master's work from that of his followers? Do we yet have methods of investigation that would deliver objective evidence of authenticity? To what extent do research techniques used in the physical sciences help? Or are we, after all, still dependent on the subjective, expert eye of the connoisseur? The book provides answers to these questions.
Prof. Ernst van de Wetering, the author of our forthcoming book which deals with these questions, has been closely involved in all aspects of this research since 1968, the year the renowned Rembrandt Research Project (RRP) was founded. In particular, he played an important role in developing new criteria for authentication. Van de Wetering was also witness to the way the often overly zealous tendency to doubt the authenticity of Rembrandt's paintings got out of hand. In this book he re-attributes to the master a substantial number of unjustly rejected Rembrandts. He also was closely involved in the (re)discovery of a considerable number of lost or completely unknown works by Rembrandt.
The verdicts of earlier specialists - including the majority of members of the original RRP (up to 1989) - were based on connoisseurship: the self-confidence in one's ability to recognise a specific artist's style and 'hand'. Over the years, Van de Wetering has carried out seminal research into 17th-century studio practice and ideas about art current in Rembrandt's time. In this book he demonstrates the fallibility of traditional connoisseurship, especially in the case of Rembrandt, who was par excellence a searching artist.
The methodological implications of this critical view are discussed in an introductory chapter which relates the history of the developments in this turbulent field of research. Van de Wetering's account of his own involvement in it makes this book a lively and sometimes unexpectedly personal account.
The catalogue section presents a chronologically ordered survey of Rembrandt's entire painted oeuvre of 336 paintings, richly illustrated and annotated. For all the paintings re-attributed in this book, extensive commentaries have been included that provide a multi-facetted new insight into Rembrandt's world and the world of art-historical research.
Rembrandt's Paintings Revisited is the concluding sixth volume of A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings (Volumes I-V; 1982, 1986, 1989, 2005, 2010). It can also be read as a revisionary critique of the first three Volumes published by the old RRP team up till 1989 and of Gerson's influential survey of Rembrandt's painted oeuvre of 1968/69. At the same time, the book is designed as an independent overview that can be used on the basis that anyone seeking more detailed information will be referred to the five previous (digital versions of the) Volumes and the detailed catalogues published in the meantime by the various museums with collections of Rembrandt paintings.
This work of art history and art research should belong in the library of every serious art historical institute, university or museum.
Aimed at graduate students and researchers, this book provides a comprehensive study of interfaces within and between materials, a central concern to all materials scientists. It is comprised of four parts, covering the structure, thermodynamics, kinetics, and properties of interfaces in crystalline materials. Emphasis throughout is on conceptual foundations through the exposition of simple models and descriptions of key experimental observations. The reader is taken through the foundations to the forefront of current reseach by two of the leading researchers in the area. Due to high levels of demand for use as a textbook, the hardback edition, previously available at £95.00, has been reprinted and reissued in cover-to-boards binding and priced at £49.50.
From the INTRODUCTION:
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