Eli Wilner & Company restores the period frame for a Manet for the Rhode Island School of Design Museum

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Eli Wilner & Company restores the period frame for a Manet for the Rhode Island School of Design Museum
Period frame for Edouard Manet’s, Le Repos, in the collection of the RISD Museum, in the process of being restored by Eli Wilner & Company.

NEW YORK, NY.- Eli Wilner & Company recently completed the restoration of the frame for Edouard Manet’s, Le Repos, in the collection of the RISD Museum. With its newly restored frame, the painting will be lent to an exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Musee d'Orsay in 2023. One of the most important avant-guard French painters in the 19th century, Edouard Manet was a key figure in the early development of Impressionism. In his 1871 painting Le Repos, Manet portrayed the artist Berthe Morisot, another of the most important Impressionist painters working in Paris, and wife of Manet's younger brother Eugène.

At the end of the 19th century, the eminent art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel sold the painting to George W. Vanderbilt, who hung it at Biltmore, his estate in Asheville, North Carolina. It passed to his wife Edith, and from Edith (who remarried and settled in Providence) to the RISD Museum in 1958.

According to the RISD Museum records, the current frame has been on Le Repos since at least 1898. During this period, it had only received minimal conservation. In 2021 the frame was found to be in a vulnerable state as a result of insect activity at some earlier time period. Numerous areas of surface deterioration were also identified.

The Wilner team began treatment of the frame with a gentle surfacing cleaning, which revealed areas of highly burnished gilding, including areas in the cove that remained almost entirely intact. When gold paint was removed from the frame surface, a few areas of exposed raw wood were found. Those areas were then cleaned and prepared with gesso for re-gilding. All areas of the frame that showed insect damage were stabilized, filled, and prepared for gilding. Master carvers reviewed the areas of the frame with fresh gesso to ensure that no detail of the ornament was lost. A build-up of new wood was added to the back of the frame give it greater stability, keeping some of the original wood exposed, and the new wood was stained to match the color of the original.

The Wilner finishing team applied bole and gold leaf to the restored areas of the frame surface, and then carefully matched the color and tone to the intact original gilded areas of the frame.

The restored frame was then carefully packed into a custom crate and returned to RISD, where it was reunited with the painting.

Eli Wilner & Company is proud to add this project to a long list of artworks relating to important moments in American History that they have worked on, including 27 frames for The White House, the framing of the flag from Custer’s Last Stand, the replacement of an original looking- glass for George Washington’s Mount Vernon, a hand-carved replica of the Resolute Desk for the George W. Bush Presidential Library, and the recreation of the lost frame on Emanuel Leutze’s monumental “Washington Crossing the Delaware” for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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