The Art History Newsletter

Conservation Category Archives

‘A Laboratory for Art’

22 December 2010 | Books, Conservation

A new book put out by the Harvard Art Museum explores the Fogg’s role as the first museum to have a scientifically based research department – conceived by Edward Waldo Forbes, director from 1909 to 1944, as a “laboratory for the fine arts”. Forbes was heavily influenced by John Ruskin, and his arguments for the [...]


Conserving Wisdom

21 July 2010 | Conservation

The L.A. Times recently did a piece on the ongoing diagnosis of the Ghent Altarpiece: Anne van Grevenstein, an art conservator who teaches at the University of Amsterdam, along with Ronald Spronk, an art historian from Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, head a team of art experts and trainees conducting a detailed technical analysis of [...]


Altering the Altarpieces

6 May 2010 | Conservation

Vasari’s “Last Supper” and the Ghent Altarpiece prepare to enter the conservation studio (thanks to the Getty) as the St Korbinian Altarpiece makes its exit.


surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS)

8 January 2010 | Ancient, Conservation

From the January 2010 issue of Chemistry World ($): Art conservators have long been armed with analytical techniques to explore the chemical make-up of paints and dyes but in the past five years a method called surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) has started to attract their attention. Experts predict that in the next five years it [...]


Joyce Hill Stoner

2 November 2009 | Conservation

The Chronicle of Higher Education profiles conservator Joyce Hill Stoner: An art conservator who set up North America’s first doctoral program in preservation studies, at the University of Delaware, has been named to a new chair in material culture, the study of societies’ artifacts … In 1990, Ms. Stoner set up North America’s first doctoral [...]


Theories of Conservation

22 April 2009 | Books, Conservation

We belatedly note the 2007 translation by conservator Helen Glanville of Alessandro Conti’s History of the Restoration and Conservation of Works of Art (which Conti first published in Italian in 1973 at the age of 26 or 27, then re-issued in an expanded and revised edition in 1988). In her introduction, Glanville writes: There never [...]


Raphael Restored

30 March 2009 | Conservation, Renaissance

Milan’s Brera Gallery has completed its restoration of Raphael’s The Wedding of the Virgin, according to Reuters: The painting’s surface had darkened considerably in the 150 years since the last major restoration. It also underwent small repairs in 1958 after a visitor attacked it with a hammer, injuring the Virgin’s stomach and elbow … The [...]


Hagia Sophia, Unstable and Unknown

3 December 2008 | Architecture, Conservation

Smithsonian Magazine writes about current attempts to restore and safeguard Hagia Sophia: “For months at a time, you don’t see anybody working,” said [Zeynep] Ahunbay, a professor of architecture at Istanbul Technical University. She had directed a partial restoration of the building’s exterior in the late 1990s and is regarded by conservators as its guardian [...]


‘Acceptable Light Damage’

2 January 2008 | Conservation, Museums

In a recent issue of Studies in Conservation (52:3), Clare Richardson and David Saunders write on “Acceptable Light Damage”: A panel of observers was presented with pairs of reproductions of figurative and abstract oil and watercolour paintings, regions of which had been altered digitally prior to printing to give a known colour difference from the [...]


Dunhuang Caves Endangered

18 January 2007 | Asia, Conservation

The official China Daily writes on efforts to save frescoes and statues in the Dunhuang Mogao Caves: “Artisans began working on the caves in the Mingsha Mountain in AD 366, or 1,641 years ago. The more than 3,000 Buddha statues and the frescoes that together can add up to 30 kilometers are a treasure trove [...]


Obit: Craig Hugh Smyth

3 January 2007 | Conservation

From The New York Times: “Craig Hugh Smyth, an art historian who drew attention to the importance of conservation and the recovery of purloined art and cultural objects, died on Dec. 22 … Mr. Smyth led the first academic program in conservation in the United States … He wrote many scholarly articles and books, including, [...]


‘Restoring’ Mont St. Michel

10 October 2006 | Conservation

Robert G. Calkins, emeritus professor at Cornell, writes in The Wall Street Journal: “A controversial project is currently under way to restore the Mont, now almost reunited to the mainland by accumulated silt, to its island status. This is ironic: The Mont originally was not an island at all, but merely a granite outcropping, rising [...]


You Want Us to Do What in Under 90 Days? This is Italy …

12 September 2006 | Conservation

From Ansa: “A top Italian art historian warned on Monday that a government bid to simplify public administration procedures could threaten the country’s cultural heritage. Salvatore Settis, former director of the Getty Research Institute of Art History in Los Angeles, explained in a front-page article published by the La Repubblica daily that the danger lay [...]


Restoring Santiago

18 August 2006 | Architecture, Conservation

Spain’s ABC discusses the €3,000,000 restoration of the Santiago cathedral being undertaken in preparation for the 2010 Holy Year.


Constable, Self-Edited

22 June 2006 | Conservation, Modern

From The Independent: “The sweeping panorama of foreboding skies and the bustling life of Brighton’s grand seafront is a tour de force that took John Constable months of careful refining. Yet after he had finished, Britain’s greatest landscape painter stood back, admired his work, and took a knife to it. New research has revealed for [...]


Grant for Acrylics Conservation

11 May 2006 | Conservation, Contemporary

Insurer AXA Art “announced its third conservation research award to Tate in London.” The €225,000 award benefits “an international collaborative research in preventive and practical conservation of acrylic works … Acrylic paints and primers have been widely used by artists since the early 1960s. They account for approximately 50% of paint sales over the last [...]


Assisi Fresco Unveiled

7 April 2006 | Architecture, Conservation

“Italian authorities on Wednesday unveiled the final fresco restoration of the St. Francis Basilica here following a 1997 earthquake – but because of the quake’s devastation, only a quarter of the missing masterpiece remains … Rather than repaint or reconstruct the image from scratch, Italian art historians and restorers decided to painstakingly restore what fragments [...]