Examination

March 31, 2017 to April 4, 2017



















Description






In an interior setting, three full-length figures are represented. Apollo stands on the left while Venus is positioned in the center. Her son Cupid is placed to her right. The scene also includes five still lifes. From left to right they depict a collection of jewelry, a basket of fruit with cut flowers, a sprig of roses, a bowl of oysters, and, in the lower-right corner, a small table with brushes and painting supplies. The painting is unsigned and undated.














Federico Barocci "Apollo and Venus"
Hoyt Sherman Place
Des Moines, Iowa












Support






The painting has been painted on a wooden panel measuring H. 49” x W. 37” x T. 3/16”. The wood has been cut tangentially with the grain running vertically. Past full-length vertical cracking has occurred, most pronounced at W. 7”, W. 16”, W.  17”, W. 28”, and W. 35.” These cracks exhibit bi-level planar distortions opening both right-left and up-down. The support has been cradled with nine vertical battens and nine horizontal members. An unknown, beige-toned consolidate has been broadly applied over several of the verso cracks. The back shows no inscriptions or markings except for one paper label identifying the “Possessor” as N. B. Collins, the title as “Apollo and Venus,” and the artist as “Federico Baroccio.”
 








Horizontal View of Cradle









Horizontal Cradle Detail







Gesso






The thinly and evenly applied ground was probably white when first applied, but it has now darkened from oil staining. The gesso appears to be calcium carbonate and is well intact, although distinct losses have occurred along the vertical cracks, in isolated locations in the left third of the painting, and in scattered edge areas. The artist has not used the ground as a transitional tone although awareness of the gesso has become more apparent today due to the translucency of older paint films.












Paint






The paint has been smoothly applied throughout, with only occasional areas of impasto in the white highlights. The layer is vehicular in nature. (13) The forms appear to be modeled directly in one layer as opposed to several layers of diaphanous hues. Due to panel expansions and contractions, the paint is poorly secured and critically unstable, with hard-edged losses along the vertical separations, throughout the left third of the composition, and in numerous other areas. Smaller interior cracks exhibit weakness and pinpoint losses. The paint appears to have been skinned in the darker areas from former harsh cleaning attempts. There are no areas of pentimenti, which suggests the forms were painted directly or from a preparatory drawing.









Raking Light Detail
Before Treatment


Raking Light Detail
Before Treatment












Restoration Paint


Oil paint discolors and darkens as it ages. As a result, when used for inpainting, it becomes increasingly obvious and inconsistent with the tone it is supposed to match. The treated painting suffered from this visual discontinuity. Restoration work was liberally applied along the former cracks and covered almost half of the flesh tones. These areas  had discolored and were out of context with the adjacent tones.














Darkened Restoration Paint


Darkened Restoration Paint


An ultraviolet light examination offers clues to a painting's condition history. Organic varnishes glow a yellow-green color under such lighting. If restoration paint has been applied on top of the varnish, the area cannot glow and appears jet-black. This is referred to as "primary fluorescence." If a painting has been varnished more than once, and the restoration work is sandwiched between the varnish layers, the ultraviolet light shows these areas as dark shadows. This is referred to as "secondary fluorescence." The ultraviolet light revealed extensive areas of both primary and secondary fluorescence, evidence that the painting had suffered through a succession of former restorations.












Surface Films






The paint surface was coated with four distinct films. The two uppermost layers consisted of a dirt and grime film that was resting on top of a discolored organic varnish. Similarly, the next two layers consisted of a still older dirt film on top of a second organic varnish layer. Organic varnishes yellow and darken with age, thereby falsifying a painting's intended tonal relationships. They also serve to flatten the three-dimensional illusion of space. The painting's overall visual quality was severely compromised by the accumulation of these overlaying films.







Page 6--Treatment
























Page 1--Introduction,   Page 2--History of Hoyt Sherman Place,   Page 3--Adopt a Painting/First Discovery,
Page 4--Provenance,  Page 5--Examination,   Page 6--Treatment,   Page 7--The Letters/Second Discovery,
Page 8--Attribution/Third Discovery, Page 9--Ut pictura poesis, Page 10--Final Thoughts/PBS Video












Footnotes


13. Stout, George. "Classes of Simple Paint Structure." Technical Studies, vol. vi. (1938): 231. Vehicular paint has a greater percentage of vehicle (oil in this case) over pigment.




















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Barry Bauman Conservation
Contact: Mr. Barry Bauman
1122 N. Jackson Ave., River Forest, IL. 60305
Ph.(708)771-0382  Fax.(708)771-1532
e-mail:barrybbc7@yahoo.com