In a series of blogs, the UD conservation interns have detailed their work throughout the summer.
Because the canvases had been rolled up for more than a century, they
were marred by water damage, dust and dirt, which “dulled the colors
and deadened the sheen of the paint,” interns wrote. After gently
cleaning each mural with tiny sponges, the interns found a “surprisingly
fresh surface” on the paintings.
Intern and 2016 WUDPAC alumna Pamela Johnson described the early part
of the project, when the conservators were unrolling and stretching the
large panels, getting them ready for more detailed work.
“While the most glamorous parts of conservation treatments are
usually the final steps … the beginning of a project often includes a
lot of preparatory work and a healthy amount of elbow grease,” Johnson
wrote. “It is just as important that we are precise in these first
stages of treatment as we are in the final steps.”
The team also used X-ray fluorescence technology to analyze the elements present in the paintings.
“Throughout the treatment, the team has had the unique opportunity to
look at very early examples of Steichen’s paintings and artistic
career, and have done a brilliant job of examining and documenting the
entire process,” Hartman said. “We are looking forward to publishing our
findings and for the opening of the exhibition that will accompany the
About the conservation team and the museum
The conservation interns working this summer to prepare the Steichen painting for exhibition are all students or alumni of WUDPAC, a three-year master’s degree program operated jointly by the University of Delaware and Winterthur Museum.
Internationally known, the program is one of only five graduate
programs in art conservation in North America and one of only two
jointly sponsored between a university and a museum.
The conservation interns working on the Steichen project were Keara
Teeter ’19, Diana Hartman ’18, Pamela Johnson ’16 and Samantha Skelton
’14. Supervising the project was Laura Eva Hartman ’10, ’13M.
Founded in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art is one of the 10 largest art museums in the United States. It opened its in-house Paintings Conservation Studio in 2013.
The exhibition Edward Steichen: In Exaltation of Flowers (1910-1914)
is overseen by Sue Canterbury, the museum’s Pauline Gill Sullivan
Associate Curator of American Art. The murals in the exhibition are part
of a private collection.
Article by Ann Manser; photos courtesy of Dallas Museum of Art