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Antwerp in Indy — Part One

Part one in a series of blog posts on the ongoing examination and treatment of two paintings on loan to the IMA from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp.

Maerten van Heemskerck, "Portrait of a Man," Oil on wood panel. Photograph taken by Aaron Steele.

Maerten van Heemskerck, “Portrait of a Man,” oil on wood panel. Photograph by Aaron Steele.

Maarten van Heemskerck’s Portrait of a Man and Gerrit Berkheyde’s View of Dam Square and the Amsterdam Town Hall have come to Indianapolis for a visit.  The IMA has the unique and wonderful opportunity to display these two paintings from the Dutch collection of Antwerp’s Royal Museum of Fine Arts (KMSKA) until 2017 while the KMSKA is closed for renovation.

Gerrit Adriaensz Berkheyde, "The “Dam” in Amsterdam (Dam Square and the AmsterdamTown Hall)," oil on canvas. Photograph taken by Aaron Steele.

Gerrit Adriaensz Berkheyde, “The “Dam” in Amsterdam (Dam Square and the AmsterdamTown Hall),” oil on canvas. Photograph by Aaron Steele.

What is especially exciting about this loan is the exchange of conservation expertise for the privilege of borrowing and displaying these paintings. While at the IMA, the paintings will undergo technical examination and conservation treatment.  This includes analysis with infrared reflectography to study preparatory layers and x-radiography to further study preparatory layers and look at old damages. It’s a wonderful opportunity for IMA conservators to collaborate with international colleagues.

Both paintings are covered with layers of dirt, yellowed varnish, as well as old, discolored re-touchings and overpaint. The overall conservation process will involve carefully removing those discolored layers, applying a new and non-yellowing varnish, and carefully inpainting areas of damage to reintegrate the compositions.

Detail of the lower right corner of the Berkheyde cityscape showing darkened and discolored patches of retouching and overpaint in the foreground.  Photo by Aaron Steele.

Detail of the lower right corner of the Berkheyde cityscape showing darkened and discolored patches of retouching and overpaint in the foreground. Photo by Aaron Steele.

The conservation process will take approximately nine months for each painting. We would like to thank Nico Van Hout and Lizet Klaassen from KMSKA for their expertise and collaboration.

Filed under: Conservation

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