A Lion by Any Other Color. . .

Posted on
The conservation team in front of the Southwest Lion during cleaning. Left to Right: Assistant Objects Conservator Paige Schmidt, USS Monitor Collections Manager Mike Saul, Assistant Conservator Laurie King, Archaeological Conservator Erik Farrell, and Volunteer Conservator Arianna DiMucci. Image Credit: The Mariners’ Museum and Park, photographer: Crystal R. Hines

If you’ve visited our Lions Bridge over the last couple of weeks, you may have seen our signature Lions turning shades of red and orange.  Never Fear! Nothing is wrong.  Rather, the conservation team is giving our Lions a ‘grooming.’

These cleaning sessions are done to maintain the longevity of our Lions.  Biological growth and air pollution on the limestone sculptures and granite bases will damage them over time.   Read more

Venice’s Marriage to the Sea

Posted on
Hand-colored copperplate engraving titled ‘The Doge in the Bucintoro Departing for the Porto di Lido on Ascension Day.’ The original artwork was created by Canaletto and engraved by Giovanni Battista Brustolo. This third state engraving was printed by Teodoro Viera in Venice sometime around 1787. [Accession# LE 831]

This weekend marks the annual Festa della Sensa in Venice.  Although the festival didn’t start until 1965 it commemorates and recreates the ancient traditional ceremony of Sposalizio del Mar, the event in which Venice is symbolically married to the sea.

The origins of the ceremony date to the period when Venice was a sovereign state (from 697 AD to 1797 AD).  It commemorates two important events in the state’s history: the May 9, 1000 departure of Doge Pietro II Orseolo with a fleet on the successful mission to subdue Narentine pirates threatening Venetian power, trade and travel on the Adriatic and Doge Sebastiano Ziani’s successful negotiation of the Treaty of Venice in 1177. The treaty ended a long standing conflict between the Holy Roman Empire headed by Frederick Barbarossa and the Papacy.   Read more

The Bronze Door Society Paves the Way for New Possibilities at the Museum!

Posted on
Zeiss Axioscope 5 Microscope, equipped with transmitted and reflected bright field, dark field, polarization, and UV fluorescence. In the lab, mounted with Axiocam 305 camera with workstation and ZEN imaging software. Image credit: The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

My pitch to The Bronze Door Society during the annual project selection dinner last fall dressed as Sherlock Holmes (and complete with an impeccable English accent, if I do say so myself) was well worth it. After months of anticipation, the Batten Conservation Complex’s new microscope, one of the projects funded by The Bronze Door Society, has finally arrived! (to learn more about The Bronze Door Society, go here: https://www.marinersmuseum.org/bronze-door-society/).

The new Zeiss Axioscope 5  will allow conservators and scientists to view samples at high magnification with polarized light, darkfield and brightfield illumination, and ultraviolet visible fluorescence. These analytical features, in conjunction with our new workstation, camera, and imaging software, will allow us to view, capture, and share information that we previously could not attain in-house.   Read more

The Death of an Attribution

Posted on
Magic and Gracie off Castle Garden by James Edward Buttersworth, circa 1868-1872 (Accession #2011.06.01. Gift of Janet and Rudolph Schaefer.)

What’s an attribution, you ask? It’s the act of ascribing an artwork to a particular artist (if the painting isn’t signed) or as a depiction of a particular event (if it isn’t specifically identified by the artist).  To attribute a painting to an artist one must be very knowledgeable about the artist’s oeuvre. To make an attribution to an event one must be a VERY careful and detail-oriented researcher.  Thankfully, the attribution I had to kill wasn’t to remove the artist; I was forced to remove the attribution to an event because it doesn’t appear that much research took place before the attribution was made.

The affected work is a beautiful painting by marine artist James Edward Buttersworth. It depicts the schooner Magic and sloop Gracie leading a fleet of six yachts down the Hudson River and around the tip of Manhattan on a partly cloudy morning (we know it’s morning because of the position of the sun). A fairly famous piece, this painting graced the cover of the 1994 reprint of Rudolph J. Schaefer’s seminal work “J. E. Buttersworth 19th-Century Marine Painter.”  At some point in the past, probably sometime before 1975, the scene was determined to be the annual regatta of the New York Yacht Club held on June 22, 1871. The slow and painful death of this attribution began when I was asked to provide historical details about the painting so it could be intelligently discussed during special events.   Read more

I-Arghhhh: The Use of an Infrared (IR) Camera in Conservation

Posted on
Valentine viewed by the camera in ‘visible’ light (light our eyes can detect). (Image credit: The Mariners’ Museum and Park)

Last month, Dr. Molly McGath and I unveiled conservation’s infrared camera to the public during the ‘Be My Mariner’ event. Visitors created Valentines for their special someones, and included a ‘secret’ message that only our IR camera could reveal.

The event was a lot of fun, and it was great to see all of the creative and clever ideas kids (and their parents!) came up with for their Valentines.   Read more