Wednesday, May 15 • 4:00pm - 4:30pm
(Paintings) Joining Skills: A Collaboration Between Painting and Furniture Specialties to Treat Panel Paintings

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In 2017 Joos van Cleve’s panel painting Descent from the Cross (c.1520) went on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) for the first time in five decades, following a conservation treatment that depended upon an interdisciplinary collaboration between conservation specialties. During the treatment, which was originally to include just paintings conservator Lucia Bay’s cleaning and restoration of the painting, two circumstances came together that allowed the scope of the treatment to be broadened to address structural problems of the large (approximately 46 × 50 inches) panel: the willingness of Metropolitan Museum of Art panel painting specialist Alan Miller to advise on the structural work, and the presence of woodwork conservator Gert van Gerven, who was working on furniture projects at the PMA and has an interest in panel paintings. The panel, comprising five oak boards, showed evidence of several past interventions, the most compromising of which was a thinning, flattening, and heavy cradling performed in 1921. That treatment resulted in poorly aligned joints between the boards, and the locked cradle likely contributed to the complete separation of one board from the rest of the panel. The underpinning of the treatment was collaborative planning between the paintings conservator and the woodwork conservator to take into account the needs of both the painted image and the panel support. The recently completed Getty Conservation Institute Panel Paintings Initiative provided essential resources for analysis of the panel’s condition and developing a treatment strategy. The structural treatment involved the removal of the cradle, separation and repair of small splits in the five boards, precisely rejoining them to restore a gentle overall curvature to the panel, and applying a secondary support system designed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Every stage of the panel treatment drew upon distinct skill sets, knowledge, and sensitivities of the paintings conservator and woodwork conservator to guide the selection and use of the most appropriate tools, material, and methods. The advice and encouragement of consulting conservator Alan Miller were also critical to the success of the project. The treatment’s benefits extended beyond the recovered structural stability and visual wholeness of this particular painting. In meeting the challenges of this painting’s condition both conservators involved were introduced to new tools and different approaches from each other’s discipline. The success of the treatment and the joining of expertise that made it possible created a model for cross-department collaboration, setting the stage for the structural treatment of other works from the PMA’s collection of more than nine hundred European and American panel paintings.

avatar for Lucia Bay

Lucia Bay

Project Assistant Conservator of Paintings, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Lucia Bay joined the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) as the Project Assistant Conservator of Paintings in 2016 to study and treat the 1520 Descent from the Cross by Joos van Cleve. Since 2018 she has been working on paintings in preparation for a 2020 installation of the new American... Read More →

avatar for Gert van Gerven

Gert van Gerven

Project Conservator of Furniture, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Gert van Gerven joined the PMA in 2015 as project conservator for the Early American Furniture Catalogue and installation of the new American galleries in 2020. Gert trained at the Instituut Collectie Nederland (ICN) where he graduated in 2009. After graduation Gert worked at the... Read More →

Wednesday May 15, 2019 4:00pm - 4:30pm
Salon B2, Uncas Ballroom
  • Track Paintings
  • Ticketed Included in Main Registration
  • Authors in Publication Order Lucia Bay, Gert van Gervan
  • Abstract ID 18633
  • Tags panel painting,structural treatment,Joos van Cleve,Descent from the Cross,collaboration

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