Monday, January 19, 2015

Research: Worcester Art Museum "Then and Now" by Travis Simpkins. Update #37

     -In the late 1930's, a few years after the Renaissance Court building was constructed, the newly unearthed Antioch mosaics began arriving at the Worcester Art Museum. In the first photo, from 1937, the five sections of the Worcester Hunt mosaic are set in place after the decision was made to cut open the fairly new stone floor. Border fragments were added to the east and west sides of the mosaic in 2000, under the expert supervision of curator Christine Kondoleon (currently working at the MFA) and conservator Larry Becker (currently working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art). Both the older photo and the 2014 shot show the Renaissance Court in natural light.
     -After it's installation, the Hunt mosaic was coated with a varnish that was intended to saturate the colors. Instead, it yellowed the surface over the years. The 1978 photo shows conservators at work cleaning the tesserae (one of several full treatments over the decades). Later work involved replacing previous concrete fill areas with a new reversible acrylic lime mortar. The 1978 photo was taken in artificial light (the skylight was damaged in 1938, covered in metal, and was not replaced until the early 2000's), so I shot the 2014 photo with incandescent lighting as well.
     -The sketch depicts the recently conserved, nearly 3,000-year-old, Assyrian "Winged Genie" in the Renaissance Court.
     -In 1936, the Worcester Art Museum hired Edmond de Beaumont as it's first full-time conservator. During his four decades at WAM, de Beaumont examined and documented much of the collection with innovative and technical finesse, using x-radiography and infrared photography. Further focus on conservation was added in 1947 when George L. Stout came on as WAM Director. Recently portrayed by George Clooney in "The Monuments Men," Stout helped rescue countless artistic treasures from theft and destruction during World War II. Prior to the war, he had been a conservator at Harvard's Fogg Art Museum. George Stout served at WAM until 1955, when he left to become the Director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. He led the Gardner Museum for 15 years, retiring in 1970.

     -I am pleased to be working with Anthony Amore (Chief Investigator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum) on Stolen Cavalier, where my knowledge and talents (Art, Research, Museum Security) will be appreciated and utilized, sharing information and raising awareness about Art Theft… and showing that by studying the mistakes, methods and motives used in past heists, we can take steps to help prevent similar events from recurring in the future.

Renaissance Court. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

Renaissance Court. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

A Winged Genie. Worcester Art Museum. by Travis Simpkins

George L. Stout and Edmond de Beaumont

A Cavalier, by Van Mieris. Stolen, 2007. by Travis Simpkins