The Worcester Art Museum in the United States and the Ashmolean Museum in the United Kingdom are to receive grants from the TEFAF
Museum Restoration Fund to help them carry out important conservation projects. The Fund was set up by TEFAF Maastricht, as one of its 2012 Silver Jubilee initiatives and provides up to 50,000 each year to help institutions around the world conserve works of art in their collections. A panel of independent, international experts considered many applications from museums before selecting the two winning projects, which will each receive 25,000. TEFAF Maastricht will take place at the MECC (Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre) in the southern Netherlands from 15 to 24 March 2013.
The Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts is to restore a pair of portraits by the 18th century British artist William Hogarth. The pendant portraits of William and Elizabeth James, painted by Hogarth in 1744, were acquired by the museum more than a century ago but have never been comprehensively treated or technically evaluated and will benefit greatly from a conservation project. The work will enable the Worcester Art Museum to feature them prominently in Hogarth and the English Character, an exhibition planned for 2016, and ultimately to return these cornerstone works to its permanent galleries. The restoration will allow those viewing them to experience the full impact of the paintings as exquisite works of art without any concerns about their condition. The newly conserved pictures will reveal more authentic palettes and broader tonal ranges that, when reunited with their newly conserved frames, will enable viewers to have the pleasing experience intended by Hogarth.
William Hogarth (1697-1764) was one of the masters of British painting. Although best known for his biting satires of society that were popularised in engravings, he was also a skilled portraitist. In these paintings he captured the confidence of William James, a country squire from the English county of Kent, and his wife Elizabeth, both proud of their fashionable London clothes.
The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford is to carry out a conservation project on two candelabra by the Italian artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778). The intricately carved candelabra are some of the finest examples of neo-classical sculpture in the United Kingdom. They form a key element of the collections displayed in the Ashmoleans impressive Randolph Sculpture Gallery and are of international significance. They were purchased from Piranesi by Sir Roger Newdigate, who made two Grand Tours in 1739-40 and 1774-75. The candelabra were shipped in component form from Italy to Oxford with instructions for their re-assembly provided by Piranesi. The candelabra have become structurally unsound because the plaster bonding in the joints between each vertical section has failed during the 100 years since they were last restored. Until they were re-plinthed on pallets in 1991, these vulnerable objects were traditionally moved by masons dragging them across the floor, using winches, rather than lifting them. Although they are now mounted on pallets, disguised as plinths, moving them still puts them at risk as they comprise many loose components. For that reason the museum has developed this project to dismantle, conserve and structurally stabilize these remarkable objects.
The international panel of experts which made the decisions is chaired by Professor Dr Henk van Os of the University of Amsterdam, who is Chairman of the Antiquairs Vetting Committees at TEFAF. Its other members are Rachel Kaminsky, a private art dealer from New York who was formerly head of the Old Master paintings department at Christies, David Bull, a paintings restorer, and Dr Kenson Kwok, the former and founding director of the Asian Civilisations Museum and the Peranakan Museum in Singapore
The panel based its decision on the following general criteria.
■ How will the art world benefit from this project?
■ How will the public benefit from this project?
■ How significant will the donation be for this museum/project?
The panel decides whether the funds should be allocated to a single museum project or split between two. Museums applying for this funding must have visited TEFAF Maastricht in the year of the application, the work of art restored must be exhibited at TEFAF when the project is completed and must be on public view for at least two years afterwards.
The TEFAF Museum Restoration Fund was created out of the desire to give something back to the large number of museums whose representatives regularly visit the Fair. It aims to make a contribution to the conservation of objects that are in those museums collections and to support the sharing of knowledge about conservation, not only with other museums, but also with the general public.