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Conserving the Piece: Winslow Homer

By Maureen O’Connor, Tru Vue® Marketing Manager

We love hearing from framers about their unique projects and conservation efforts. In this post, award-winning designer, Mira Bishop of Oliver Brothers in Massachusetts shares with us how – and why – she used Optium Museum Acrylic® to protect an important piece of artwork and enhance its beautifully vibrant colors.



The Moment


Established in 1850, Oliver Brothers is the oldest art conservation restoration firm in the United States, and specializes in the conservation and restoration of paintings, works on paper, and antique and contemporary picture frames. Therefore, it was a natural choice to bring their treasured work of art to Oliver Brothers when the owner had concerns that it may not have been properly framed.



The piece in question is an untitled painting by the celebrated 19th-century American artist, Winslow Homer, and is part of his series based on his travels to the Adirondack Mountains, located in upstate New York. Homer’s works from these trips are among his best known, and the watercolors from this series are considered to be some of his finest.



The Conservation


When Mira Bishop examined the painting, she found that it was indeed framed incorrectly and had been placed onto an acidic paperboard backing using non-archival adhesives.



“Picture Framers should always be on the lookout for artwork that comes into their shops for reframing that was framed in the past with non-archival methods and materials,” Mira explained. “If an artwork is valuable – whether personally, monetarily, or both – it should be properly cared for. Proper care includes archival framing and, when necessary, the services of a Fine Art Conservator. If an artwork is especially fragile or valuable, contact a fine art conservator to advise you regarding the best approach to take.”



To ensure the longevity of the Winslow Homer piece, Oliver Brothers’ Paper Conservator first removed the painting from the old acidic backing and then performed a conservation treatment. Once treated, the watercolor painting was mounted onto a sheet of archival conservation board, and was then ready for framing.



Working with Optium Museum Acrylic®


The artwork was hinged to a museum-quality hand-gilded rag mat board to make it stand out and Mira chose a 22k gold hand-gilded frame to match. The back of the frame was protected with Coroplast, while the painting itself was protected using Optium Museum Acrylic®.



Mira said that Optium Museum Acrylic was the obvious choice because it is the best glazing material on the market today. “This was an easy decision,” she explained. “We often recommend it to our customers because it doesn’t change artwork colors, offers maximum UV protection, anti-reflective qualities, excellent clarity and it is shatter proof.”



Winslow Homer paintings are extremely valuable to the art world and to the owner of this particular piece. By using Tru Vue Optium Museum Acrylic, the 19th-century piece will now able to safely stand out for its unique artistic technique and incredibly vibrant colors throughout the 21st-century.

This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Tru Vue or its employees. Tru Vue does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented.

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