Cleaning an Oil Painting
by Early California Impressionist Master Granville Redmond
A New Find and Startling Results!
Vintage oil paintings by Granville Redmond are some of the most sought
after highly esteemed early California arts collated internationally. Because
he is so well known, its amazing to me when a new painting that no one has
ever seen surfaces… usually “dug up” by an art dealer who knows how to do
his research and find such things. Here is a newly found gem…
Badly in need of cleaning/removal of the discolored varnish
Well, this dark landscape may not seem like a gem to you but the new owner
knew before hand what this picture is supposed to look like when the
darkened, yellowed varnish is removed. That is a kind of an inner gift some
people have; to look past the grunge, mold, grime of the ages (some dealers
romantically call it “Titian’s Dirt”) to see what things are supposed to look
like once they are cleaned and restored. That’s where the money can be
made too, as a dealer. When its ugly, they buy low, and when its gorgeous,
they sell high. Here’s the painting during the art conservation cleaning:
The varnish removal should never endanger the original paint.
There are a couple of reasons I’m showing this to you, assuming you are a
collector, curator, vintage art lover: once you start feeling at home with the
aesthetics, history and market of a certain style and period of art, then the
next level deeper in your knowledge should be to know more about
condition of the artwork which will open your knowledge about fakes,
poorly restored items and appraisal values. While authenticity stories usually
interest everyone, very few people know any details of how to know and
who to ask. Figuring out the condition of artwork is a major factor in
determining value and authenticity. As you might guess, the older the
artwork, the more tangled and convoluted the web of provenance, condition
and authenticity can get. OK, maybe I’m getting off track here. We started
this blog post talking about a new find of a previously unknown painting
from around 1920 by Granville Redmond. In this case, the dealer/researcher
who found and purchased te artwork knew the difference between needing a
clean and the painting having a condition problem. In other words, even
though he knew it needed to be cleaned, he knew it was in wonderful
original condition. Kudos to Greg Colley at California Art Company for the
find! His website is http://www.californiaartcompany.com. Here’s what it
looks like cleaned:
1920's oil painting by Granville Redmond cleaned of its old discolored varnish
I love his paintings that have moons, suns etc. in them. Despite Redmond’s
fame with poppies, lupines and wonderful colors, this Tonalist picture is
actually a type of painting or mood that he was famous for. In fact, his first
art show medal (2nd place) was for a Tonalist beach scene. I also like the
little light flickering in the window of the boat.
If you would like to begin to delve into a deeper world of knowledge of
condition and discovering the hidden details of restoration as you look at art
and evaluate before you buy, then perhaps you will appreciate the following
IMPORTANT, USEFUL, 3 tips:
I had a client who was well experienced but he relied only upon “his
eye.” That is, he thought he could see everything because he was so
experienced in looking at art (and his ego got in the way). Recently, this
art collector got scammed!
See the hidden deception that he NEVER saw … and it cost him BIG
TIME (about $35,000!)
See 3 1/2 min video at
He could have avoided it!
INSPECTING AND EVALUATING A VINTAGE PAINTING (AND
MORE!) WITH A UV BLACKLIGHT:
REQUIRED Due Diligence For Art Collectors!
GOOD CONDITION? RESTORATIONS?
VALUE AND APPRAISAL?
3 GOOD TIPS FOR ART COLLECTORS
Every art collector questions the condition before a purchase… or should!
Art dealers and auction house personnel, art appraisers, insurance claim
adjusters also rely on accurate evaluations and inspections that would
benefit from the expertise of an art conservator
First tip: Ask this question… Does previous art restoration/conservation
treatments affect the condition and value of the item? The answer may be
different depending on what professional “job” you have; a collector may
look at an artwork differently than a claims adjuster.
Tip Number Two involves another condition question that should always
be asked regarding previous retouching/ inpainting. This diagnostic
method is not as easy as recognizing purple blotches. How much inpainting
affects the value? That’s not an easy question to answer and is better
answered by an appraiser.
And that sets me up for a good segue for Tip Number Three: associate with
and choose professional “mentors.” Choose an art conservator that adheres
to a professional code of ethics. The ethics of professional art
conservation do not allow for an art conservator/ restorer to buy, sell or
appraise (unless he’s a certified). There are many ways unethical people can
take advantage in the art world. Of course, choosing to associate with the
most knowledgeable person will be of the greatest benefit to you.
So, find out more about the use of a blacklight… An essential,
REQUIRED due diligence step for art collectors!
If you have art conservation questions call
Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438
If you have art and antiques appraisal questions call
Richard Holgate at 805 895 5121
Give this blog posting a THUMBS UP and leave a comment, please!
To go to the front page of the Tips For Art Collectors website