Resurrected Portrait and its Case History
by Mervyn Ruggles, Conservator
National Conservation Research Laboratory
Pages 1 |
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.
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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