Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Highlights of the Photoarchive, Part Two: Restoration, Alteration, and Destruction

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- [Kerri] Welcome everyone

to the "Highlights of the Photoarchive, Part Two:

Restoration, Alterations and Destruction."

My name is Kerri Pfister, I'm a Photoarchivist

at the Frick Art Reference Library and with my colleagues,

Sarah Bigler and John McQuaid,

we are going to be introducing to works

of art in the Photoarchive's collection,

which have been restored, altered or destroyed.

Using the rich visual resources,

an extensive documentation contained

in the records of the Photoarchive.

My job is to briefly tell you a little bit

about the history of the Photoarchive

and Taddeo Gaddi's, "Madonna and Child Enthroned."

So, let's get started.

The Frick Art Reference Library and its Photoarchive

were founded in 1920 by Helen Clay Frick,

the daughter of the industrialist, Henry Clay Frick.

The Photoarchive's collection grew rapidly

through photography trips around the United States

and Europe, where staff photographers

or commissioned photographers

photographed little known works of art.

Three of the photographers we'll be mentioning today

are Mario Sansoni, Harry Burton, and A.C Cooper.

During the 1920s, Mario Sansoni photographed

little known Italian works of art around Italy,

housed private collections, churches, and small museums

for the Photoarchive.

In 1924, the Library purchased 679 original negatives

of Italian art taken by the photographer, Harry Burton.

In London, from the 1920s through 1980,

A.C. Cooper photographed,

for the Photoarchive, works of art offered

for sale on the London art market,

especially at Sotheby's and Christie's.

And here are a few of the works

in the Photoarchive's collection

that are not illustrated

in the 1930 Christie's auction catalog.

Today, the Frick Art Reference Library's Photoarchive

continues to grow through gifts and purchases

and currently is comprised of more

than 1.2 million reproductions of works of art,

representing more than 40,000 artists,

mainly from the fourth to the mid 20th century,

trained in the Western tradition.

As a result of our continued growth,

for many objects in our collection,

we have acquired multiple photographs

of a single work of art, and in many cases,

these additional photographs depict works

in different physical states,

such as before and after alterations

or conservation treatments,

examples we will be exploring today,

along with examples of works that have been destroyed

since entering the Photoarchive's collection.

We also hold many examples of copies, versions,

forgeries and preparatory studies

for well known, little known, and anonymous artists.

In addition to the rich visual resources

of the Photoarchive,

also offers rich documentation

that represents the essential elements

of the biography of the work of art,

including ownership and attribution history,

data that has been amassed over several generations.

Photoarchive staff continually updates this documentation,

based on printed sources and from information provided

to us from museums, scholars, dealers, and collectors.

One of the artists in our collection

is the Italian painter, Taddeo Gaddi,

who was born in Florence around 1300

to the painter Gaddo Gaddi.

Sometime between 1315 and the early 1320s,

Taddeo began his apprenticeship with the artist Giotto.

In addition to the Florence Bell Tower,

Giotto was best known for his frescoes

and the Bardi Chapel in Santa Croce in Florence

and in the Scrovegni Chapel,

also known as the Arena Chapel in Padua.

Today, I'm going to talk

about Taddeo's earliest surviving painting,

dating to around 1320 to 1325.

A now truncated panel cut down on all sides

with full length fingers of the Madonna and Child Enthroned,

in a church of San Francesco on Castelfiorentino.

Indeed, the composition of the "Madonna and Child Enthroned"

closely parallels a work by his master, Giotto,

painted for the church of Ognissanti in Florence

and now in the Galleria degli Uffizi.

It's not difficult to imagine Taddeo's Madonna seated

on a similar throne and also surrounded

by saints and angels.

The photograph of the painting I am showing

was received by the Frick's Photoarchive in 1958

and records not only how the panel appears today,

but also how it appeared after its restoration.

Precipitated by its inclusion in an exhibition

on Giotto at the Uffizi in 1937.

Also housed in our collection are two photographs,

one by the photographer Harry Burton acquired in 1924

and the other, a detail of the upper portion,

by the photographer Mario Sansoni in 1928,

of how the panel looked prior to the 1937 restoration.

Here you can see metal crowns affixed to both Madonna

and the Christ child and possibly some silver

on Madonna's veil, around her face,

which I have highlighted in red boxes in the center image.

The throne is also different, overpainted in oil

to appear more like an architectural niche,

possibly in the 17th century.

The altarpiece was possibly painted for the Company

of a the Laudesi,

a group whose devotions

were directed toward the Virgin Mary

and placed by them in the church of San Francesco.

There's a long history in Italy

of adorning venerated images

with metalwork such as crowns.

In a 1563 inventory published in 1900

by Michele Cioni, describes the altarpiece with quote,

"A silver crown, a pair of silver eyes and a silver stream

all set on the veil of the Madonna," end quote.

It is unknown if the crown on the Madonna

is the one mentioned in the inventory

or are later re-dressing,

and the pair of silver eyes are not in the photograph.

Described as set on the Madonna's veil,

the eyes were possibly a votive offering,

offered in devotion or in gratitude for a miracle.

And on this slide, I'm showing a modern example

of the pair of ex-Voto eyes.

In the 1920s, the Photoarchive photographed and acquired

a number of photographs of Italian devotional images

with crowns or jewelry attached.

Historically, devotional and miracle working images

have been neglected and dismissed by art historians

as archaic in style, of little aesthetic interest,

of poor quality, or irrevocably compromised

by ritual dressing after repainting.

Adding crowns to paintings was disparagingly reported

in an unsigned article in the 1891

"Art Journal" quote,

"With regard to crowns, a custom prevails in Italy

and doubtless other countries

of affixing them upon pictures or statues,

which are believed to have been

the means of working some miracles.

They are decreed with great deliberation

and set up with considerable ceremony

but with small regard to the character

of the image they are to honor.

Every visitor to Italian churches

has noticed the extraordinary effect of a crown

or the half of a crown nailed to the painted canvas.

It would be impossible to imagine a worse anomaly.

Fortunately, no good pictures, as far as we remember,

have undergone this operation.

The popular devotion has attached itself to inferior works,"

end quote.

Thankfully, this attitude has changed

in recent years and art historians

are no longer dismissing devotional images

and are contextualizing the cultural activity

that surrounds such works.

This attitude may account for why the Gaddi panel

was traditionally attributed

to an anonymous artist of the Sienese School.

It is not till 1908 that art historians

began looking more closely at the figures

and attributed the panel to Taddeo Gaddi.

A few scholars such as Bernard Berenson and Richard Offner

challenged the attribution and asserted their own opinions

to artists such as the Florentine painter, Bernardo Daddi,

and the so-called Master of the Poppi Frescoes,

from the Tuscan town of Poppi.

As in the case of the Gaddi, metal crowns have been removed

from other paintings held in the Photoarchive,

and subsequent restorations, but not in every case.

The 14th century "Madonna of Victory"

in San Salvatore in Bologna,

photographed by Sansoni and Nesti in 1925,

with crowns on both the Madonna

and Child, have later been removed.

The 13th century venerated Madonna Impruneta,

which was repainted in 1758,

was photographed in 1925 by Brogi.

It has undergone multiple restorations

since the photograph was taken.

The Brogi photograph on the left

has three oval stones affixed

to the Virgin's barely visible crown,

and she wears a necklace.

In the more recent image on the right,

a metal crown has been added

to the Virgin's head, replacing the oval stones.

This painting underwent another restoration in 2011,

which removed the metal crown and jewels,

and restored the painted crown which was barely visible

in the Brogi photograph.

The 15th century "Madonna of Good Council"

and the Basilica Shrine in Genazzano,

a fresco which on April 25, 1467,

was miraculously carried by a luminous white cloud

from Scutari, Albania and placed on the wall

in the church while still under construction.

Crowns were added to the detached fresco

in 1681 and again in 1867.

Today, the Madonna and Child still wear

their crowns and jewels.

The Frick Art Reference Library's, Photoarchive photographs

and documentation of how Taddeo Gaddi's,

"Madonna and Child Enthroned,"

and other devotional paintings,

appear before restorations are just a few examples

in our vast collection of the rich information

that can be found within the Photoarchive.

Thank you.

And now I'm gonna hand off the presentation

to my colleague, Sarah Bigler.

- [Sarah] Good afternoon, my name is Sarah Bigler.

I'm one of the Photoarchivists here

at the Frick Art Reference Library.

This afternoon, I'll introduce you

to works of art that have been altered.

In this context, by altered we mean changed,

at some point in their history

as the result of some external circumstances.

Rather than being restored by professionals

or completely destroyed,

these works underwent some sort of physical change,

due to decisions made by owners or auction houses.

For the most part, these changes were intentionally made.

A great example of this type of alteration

are works of art that have been cut down.

So, that will be the main focus today.

Cutting down paintings was once a common practice,

and is well documented throughout

the history of Western art.

The decision to cut down a painting

was often the result of damage to a part of the canvas.

Sometimes it was done by individual owners

to suit their particular tastes,

altering works to better fit certain places

in their homes or even specific frames.

Dealers and galleries were also frequent culprits of this,

sometimes cutting down paintings

to increase the potential revenue from a work of art

or to make the painting more marketable.

Sometimes it was even done

by the artists themselves as was the case

with The Frick's own Manet painting, "The Bullfight."

The Frick's painting and "The Dead Toreador,"

now in the collection

of the National Gallery of Art in Washington

were once one painting.

After receiving scathing reviews at the Salon,

Manet cut it in half, reworking both canvases

to create two entirely separate works.

So, you can see here on the screen

is a reconstruction done by the Museum of Modern Art

which shows roughly the composition,

of the original painting.

This practice of cutting down paintings

was especially common with portraits.

The Photoarchive holds many examples of portraits

that have been cut down,

most commonly from full-length to bust-length,

as you see here with the example on the screen.

The painting we will focus on today is a portrait

by the British painter John Westbrooke Chandler

of "The Children of Reverend Robert Lawrence-Townsend"

of Stanbridge House in Gloucestershire.

Painted in 1804, in its original state,

this painting depicts his five children.

From left to right we see William,

Emma, Theyer, Marianne, and Robert.

Chandler also painted a portrait of their father,

the Reverend Robert Lawrence-Townsend

a few decades earlier in 1783.

And the Photoarchive also holds a reproduction

of this image which is what you see here.

Chandler was a painter and poet working in England

in the last few decades of the 18th

and the first decade of the 19th century.

Though much of his biography remains elusive,

scholars believe that he was most likely

the illegitimate son

of the first Earl of Warwick, Francis Greville.

He exhibited portraits at the Royal Academy

between 1787 and 1791 and was patronized

by his half brother,

the second Earl of Warwick, George Greville.

Coincidentally, it's the second Earl of Warwick's wife,

Henrietta and their children whose portrait

by Romney hangs in The Frick Collection today.

So, it's entirely possible that this portrait

would have hung alongside works by Chandler

in the family home, Warwick Castle,

where Chandler also had a studio.

After 1800, Chandler resettled in Gloucestershire,

where he spent the final years

of his life painting local patrons, such

as the Reverend Robert Lawrence-Townsend and his children.

The portrait of the children

of Reverend Robert Lawrence-Townsend was consigned

to Christie, Manson, and Woods in London

by the gallery Thomas Agnew & Sons,

and sold on June 15, 1923.

Unfortunately, it's whereabouts before arriving

at Agnew's are unknown.

We can see the lot from the auction catalog

that records the sale here, that includes

both the price and the name of the buyer.

The annotated copy of this auction catalog

and all of the others that I'll mention this afternoon

are all from the collection

of the Frick Art Reference Library.

Looking at the details provided by the auction catalog,

we can see that in 1923,

the painting measured 56 1/2 by 93 inches

and included all five of the children.

The next time this painting came up for auction,

just one year later in 1924 it had been cut down.

It was cut to create two separate paintings.

On the screen now you can see where the painting was cut

based on the dimensions of the two parts

of the painting sold in 1924 and 1925.

The reason for the alteration is not entirely clear.

In that year between 1923 and 1924,

some damage could have occurred to the painting

or perhaps dealers or the auction house thought

that smaller paintings were more desirable to collectors.

Scholars may also have judged one half of the painting

to have been of better quality than the other.

Or alternatively, we could speculate that it was possibly

to increase the potential profits from the sale.

It was this right hand portion of the painting

which first appeared for sale

at Christie, Manson, and Woods

in London on July 25th, 1924.

It was sold as "Portrait of Robert and Marianne,

Children of Reverend Robert Lawrence-Townsend

under some trees with a dog."

And it measured 57 by 35 inches.

The catalog makes no mention

of any alteration done to the work.

But you can see here again,

the auction catalog clearly marks

that the painting was purchased

by the London dealer, Arthur Tooth in 1925.

And then here you can see the side-by-side

of the two photographs held in the Photoarchive

of this painting taken in 1923 and 1924.

The next year, the left portion of the painting

came up for auction on June 26th, 1925.

The catalog lists this painting

as "Portrait of William and Emma,

Children of Reverend Robert Lawrence-Townsend

in a Landscape."

The catalog notes that the painting measures 56 1/2

by 49 1/2 inches and again,

makes no mention that the painting was altered.

And then here again, you can see

this half of the painting before

and after the alterations were made.

Another interesting thing to note

is that in the process of cutting this canvas in two,

the child depicted at the center

of the composition, identified

in the original painting, as Theyer has been lost.

When we compare the two fragments with the original,

we can see that the middle child

is not present in either of the two canvases.

If we look closely, we can see that the places

where his head or his arm would have appeared

,based on the original painting, have been painted over

and all visible traces of him erased.

So, you can see I've highlighted in this image too,

where the child's arm would have appeared.

The location of both paintings are now unknown,

likely having entered private collections

after these three sales in the 1920s.

Providing access to images and information

about works of art in private collections

is one of the most important features of the Photoarchive.

This access enables research to continue

on works of art that are not currently,

or have never been, available to the public.

The photographs of these paintings

were taken by the London photographer, A.C. Cooper,

who Kerri mentioned earlier.

The photographs that we've seen today correspond

with un-illustrated auction catalogs,

providing an incredible resource that allows us

to make definitive conclusions,

which without images would just not be possible.

They guide us in visualizing the changes

this painting underwent,

which pose new questions and lead

to interesting discoveries, such as the erasure

of the fifth child at the center of the original painting.

So, with that, I'm going to pass things off to my colleague,

John McQuaid, who will discuss two portraits

by John Singer Sargent.

So, thank you very much and over to you, John.

- [John] Thank you, Sarah.

So far, we have looked at works of art

that people have changed for stylistic

or even monetary interests,

and we have traced those changes over time.

But some works of art are lost forever.

Outside actors such as fire, weather, war,

or even just the passage of time

have removed countless works of art from history.

While the vast majority of these works have been lost

before they can be entered in the photographic record,

we in the Photoarchive do have over 1,000 records

of works of art that have been destroyed

and otherwise cannot be studied.

Today, simply choosing John Singer Sargent as an artist,

we can look at two different modes of destruction,

and showcase the opportunities offered

by the Photoarchive to study these lost works.

Margaret Stuyvesant Rutherfurd, usually called Daisy,

was an American socialite of the 19th century.

In 1879, she married Henry White,

the grandson of Eliza Ridgely, who you may recognize

from the well-known Thomas Sully portrait.

Henry became well known as an American diplomat

but all the evidence points to Daisy encouraging

her husband take up a career of diplomacy

and shortly thereafter the couple were a part

of the American expat scene in Europe.

Her beauty was mentioned by Edith Wharton,

paying particular attention to the rosy color

of her cheeks untouched by paint or powder.

And when writing about London in 1888,

Henry James stated,

"The happy American here beyond

all others is Mrs. Henry White."

One of the earliest diplomatic posts for Henry

was to France in the early 1880s.

At that time, John Singer Sargent was making a name

for himself as the premier portraitist of the time

and his stay overlapped with the Whites

in the French capital.

After seeing the portrait called, "The Lady with the Rose"

now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,

the Whites commissioned Sargent

to paint a portrait of Daisy.

The work we will discuss in this webinar

is a likely preliminary study for a full-length portrait

currently in the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

After only a few sittings, the Whites had to leave Paris

and travel to the south of France.

While Sargent did travel to Nice to work on the portrait,

he remained in Paris for the majority of his work

and when compared to the full length portrait,

the smaller portrait has been described

as immediate and spontaneous,

so it may have been painted to be used while Sargent

was in his Paris studio.

The full-length portrait of Daisy is more conventional

than works Sargent was completing at the same time,

most notably the portrait of "Madame X,"

which eventually lead to the artist leaving Paris.

Today's portrait is a less formal presentation

of the sitter.

It is a bust-length portrait with the head to one side.

The brushstrokes are lighter and more natural

and they show the confidence of the artist

and capture the same trait in the sitter.

Done at the same time as a full-length formal portrait,

this could have been used by the artist

while Daisy and Henry were in Nice

or even later in Switzerland.

As a diplomatic family,

war and politics were always part of their story.

Henry's family moved to France with the defeat

of the Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War in 1865

and then had to return after the fall

of Napoleon III after the Franco-Prussian war.

Henry and Daisy had two children,

a son, John, and a daughter, Muriel.

And befitting her cosmopolitan upbringing,

the daughter, Muriel, married in 1909,

a Prussian count, with a very Prussian name,

Ernst Hans Christoph Roger Hermann Seherr-Thoss.

While Daisy died in 1916, her husband remained in diplomacy

and was one of the five American signatories

of the Treaty of Versailles ending World War I.

One of the reasons he was chosen to be part

of the American delegation

was because of their daughter's marriage

Henry was thought to be less antagonistic

to the Germans than other diplomats.

The daughter, Muriel features in this story,

as after the death of the father in 1927,

she inherited the bust-length portrait we're discussing.

Her brother, John Campbell White inherited

the full-length portrait now in Washington.

And she took the bust length portrait

to her husband's family estate, Castle Burgwasser,

then in German controlled Upper Silesia,

which is now part of Poland.

During World War II, to remain in Castle Burgwasser

which would have sad results

for both Muriel and the painting.

She had sent her two sons to Connecticut

so they would not be conscripted by the German army

and because of this,

she was subject to regular interrogation by Nazi officers.

In 1943, to avoid giving information about her sons

or because of the constant harassment from the Nazis,

she leapt to her death from a castle window.

At some point during the war,

the painting left the art historical record,

possibly after Muriel's 1943 suicide.

But more likely in 1945

as the Soviet Army advanced on the Eastern Front,

the castle was completely burned.

Had the painting survived to that point,

it would have been lost in that fire.

This painting showcases how often works of art can be lost.

One painting went to the brother

and is now in the National Gallery of Art,

while the painting that went to the sister,

is now lost because of the war.

Possessing reproductions of works of art that are lost

is an invaluable function of the Photoarchive.

Having an image of the lost portrait of Daisy allows us

to compare to the formal portrait of the same sitter

and we see the different manners in which the artist

was working when he was completing some

of his most famous portraits.

But not all works of art are lost due to war.

In November 1938, there was a devastating fire

in Hingham, Massachusetts.

Among the many items destroyed in the house

of Elizabeth Prescott Lawrence Emmons,

including a valuable model ship,

were two portraits by Sargent of husband and wife,

James Lawrence and Caroline Estelle Mudge Lawrence.

While I could not discover much about the sitter's,

except that Caroline

was an early practitioner of photography,

which of course has special resonance

for us in the Photoarchive.

At the time of the fire, the paintings had been inherited

by the sitter's daughter Elizabeth,

who married Nathaniel Emmons and keeping

with her mother's artistic interest,

Elizabeth was an avid watercolorist.

On the night of the fire, Elizabeth was awakened

by her English bull terrier dog, Susan.

And while both woman and dog were saved,

the paintings were lost.

And here's Elizabeth, in an ice cream advertisement

with a bull terrier and while the dog's not captioned,

I'd like to think that it is Susan.

But I don't bring these paintings up

just as a colorful story about a heroic dog.

Our Photoarchive notes for the Caroline portrait

mention specifically the brilliant red background.

At about the same time or just after,

Sargent was painting his famous portrait of Dr. Pozzi,

now in the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

And this is showing his interest in the use

of reds and crimsons at that time.

There are no color reproductions of the Lawrence portraits,

so the Photoarchive's meticulous color notes

can provide art historical insight

to Sargent's work in the early 1880s.

Also, there was a human connection to objects,

especially portraits of relatives.

On a New England website, Kinsmen and Kinswomen,

a post from 2016 showcased the Lawrence portraits.

While the author did not use the Photoarchive,

future family investigators do have

that option for other works of art.

And I will point out that the Photoarchive

is not just a repository of images

but is an invaluable research tool for American genealogy

and stay tuned for a future webinar devoted to that topic.

Noted in the ancestry blog post,

was the difficulty in finding a reproduction

of the portrait of Mr. Lawrence.

Because of the Photoarchive's

wide reaching acquisition policies,

we were able to obtain an image of the portrait

from a 1925 exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

The portrait of Mrs. Lawrence was reproduced

in a later exhibition at the Met,

so it's a bit more easily obtained.

By making lesser known reproductions of works of art,

especially those lost to history,

the Photoarchive is able to serve

the art historical and other communities.

Lots of works of art are bemoaned by art historians

and anyone interested in the past.

The Photoarchive provides an opportunity

to investigate works of art now destroyed,

but with photographic evidence

and now becoming more accessible in a digital format.

Thank you for joining us today.

This is our second webinar

of Highlights of the Photoarchive.

Our previous webinars,

are available on The Frick's website

and our YouTube channel.

We also welcome additional questions or comments

and you can access us through

the photoarchive@frick.org email address,

and for Kerri, Sarah and myself, thank you very much

and we can now take some of your questions.

The Description of Highlights of the Photoarchive, Part Two: Restoration, Alteration, and Destruction