Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Conservation Research

Yesterday, I had a client drop off a painting to be surface cleaned. The client thought the painting was created by Rembrandt (1606-1669) 17th Century old master painter. The client acquired the painting from an estate auction at on of Louisiana's plantations. The painting is done well but, the painting is not by Rembrandt. There is a date on the front of the painting in roman numerals the letters appear as MDXVIII (1518). The artist painted the portrait on linen and used small L-shaped cut nails to nail the canvas to the stretcher bars. Nails during the 16th Century were hand forged one by one. The nails on my client's painting were created between 1790-1810 and were made from rods of steel cut to size.
I started to do more research and found out Raphael during the last years of his life did not have time to paint since he was commissioned to work on a huge marble sculpture project in Italy. Raphael lived to the age of 37 years old and many thought during his time period that the art world had lost their greatest artisian and thought his death was a tragedy. Raphael lived during the High Renaissance (the most productive and recognized period in art history). So, who is the young man in the portrait and who is the artist?
The painting was created in Europe and definately done by someone with academic training. During 1790 and 1830 wealthy American families traveled to Italy and marveled at old master paintings. Some families commissioned artists to paint copies of paintings or paintings in the style of old master painters. I have one example of Raphael's self portrait done when he was a young man next to our client's painting. I am thinking there was an artist that studied and admired Raphael's and Titian's portrait paintings and the early 19th Century artist created my client's portrait painting for an American family. Raphael and Titian did have students training in their studios and some students went on to become master portrait painters.


  1. A peak into your life's work is so lucky you are to live it.....and to be a detective also. I appreciate the tutorial..thanks for letting me stand behind your shoulder

  2. Glad to hear I can be one source of inspiration. I tell people just follow your passion and everything will come into place. I just talked with a friend who retired from hair dressing and at 51 he finally gets to do what he wants to do. He plans to open an antique and decorator shop. He will get to travel to India to buy English antiques that have been kept in storage for decades.

  3. Hey! 51 is young...tell your friend...God speed
    and bring home some treasures...How exciting for him...There should be a society for those of us who get a second chance to follow our heart's desire!