National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada

Bulletin 8 (IV:2), 1966

Annual Index
Author & Subject

A Resurrected Portrait and its Case History 

by Mervyn Ruggles, Conservator
National Conservation Research Laboratory

1  |  2  


1 The portrait was part of the estate of the late Mrs Joanne Shaw, whose maiden name was DeNault, formerly an opera singer who lived for a period in New York City. Mrs Shaw was the last surviving member of her family and the only one who would have been able to reveal  the identity of the subject of the portrait. This is yet another demonstration of the necessity for keeping family property inventory records up-to-date: titles and attributions of ancestral portraits being a case in point. Accurate labelling of works of art in private collections also can have an important bearing on the evaluation of the estate for obvious reasons.

2 Mervyn Ruggles, 'Conservation Treatment of a Painting by the Transfer Method', The National Gallery of Canada Bulletin, Vol. 3, No.1, 1965, pp. 26-31.

3 Jean Lipman, 'I. H. Bradley, Portrait Painter', Art in America, XXXIII, July 1945, pp.154-166. See reference to this account in the preceding article in this Bulletin.

4 The New York Historical Society's Dictionary of Artists in America 1564-1860. 'Bradley, I. J. H., Itinerant painter, c.1830-40. He is known to have painted portraits at Rhinebeck, N. Y., in 1832 and Kent, Conn., in 1836,and may be the same as John Bradley, portrait painter in New York City from 1837 to 1845.

5 Wolfgang Stechow, 'Another Signed Bradley Portrait', Art in America, XXXIV, January 1946, pp. 30-32.

6. Mervyn Ruggles, 'An Illuminator for Viewing Composite X-Ray Films', Studies in Conservation, Vol. 9, No.1, 1964, pp. 32-37.

7 The stretcher was constructed of basswood with a cross-section of 1 1/8 x 2 3/4 inches and made at the National Gallery.

8 See the check-list in the preceding article.

9 The dress, with billowing gigot sleeves gathered at the wrists, gives the appearance of black velvet highlighted by a dark blue colour. A jewelled clasp secures the tight waist and while a plain gold cross hangs from a triple gold chain necklace. The oval brooch pinned to the large embroidered double collar, actually a kerchief folded diagonally, matches the pendant earrings suspended from pierced ear lobes. On the third finger of the right hand is worn a wide gold band, possibly a wedding ring, while a cluster of six pearls decorates the ring on the first finger. A circle of seven small gems in a jewelled setting is located on the ring on the first finger of the left hand.

Proceeding to the upper right, the unusual view through the window is somewhat puzzling at first glance. The glimpse of two curious snow-covered mountain peaks against a blue sky raises conjectures as to the symbolic relationship between the landscape and the sitter that surely must exist here.

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