Painting Conservation Report and Research Project conducted in anticipation of the 2017 exhibition Frédéric Bazille and the Birth of Impressionism at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

By Carol Sawyer, Margaret H. & William E. Massey Sr. Conservator of Paintings  Jean-Frédéric Bazille, The Artist’s Studio, Rue Visconti, Paris, 1867; oil on canvas, 25 ½ in x 19 in. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 83.4. Unlike Nicolas Poussin’s Achilles among the Daughters of Lycomedes, which contains…

How the Authenticity Question Surrounding Achilles Among the Daughters of Lycomedes, a Painting by Nicolas Poussin, was Resolved

By Carol Sawyer, Margaret H. & William E. Massey Sr. Conservator of Paintings The Painting Conservation Department performs treatments, examinations and research related to the VMFA painting collection. In the course of doing this work questions regarding the authenticity of a work of art sometimes arise. Technical analysis and in-depth examination of the materials and…

A view of the Portugal Gallery

VMFA Celebrates the Month of Portugal

This June, VMFA joins a long list of cultural venues across the United States in celebrating the Month of Portugal with its special exhibition, Contemporary Art from Portugal. Organized in collaboration with the Lisbon-based Fundação Luso-Americana (Luso-American Development Foundation), the exhibition features works by six contemporary Portuguese artists. The exhibition is on display in the…

Gustave Caillebotte: Influenced by Manet and Monet

This overblown bouquet of roses by Gustave Caillebotte features a cascade of petals, each one deftly built with just a few brushstrokes of thickly applied paint, scattered across a marble surface. Caillebotte’s choice of a marble tabletop, set against a scumbled, or thinly painted, black ground, may be an homage to Édouard Manet’s final series…

Art-Worthy Frames

We recently made improvements to the Mellon French Galleries. While I have received much positive feedback from visitors about the changes, I get the same question again and again: “What’s with that white frame?” Glad you asked. Although the simple white frame on Georges Seurat’s Landscape with Houses (which VMFA recently received from the Life…

A Bird’s Eye View of Félix Bracquemond

In 1874, French printmaker Félix Bracquemond (1833-1914) submitted more works than any other artist to the inaugural impressionist exhibition. The work Bracquemond displayed—at his friend Edgar Degas’s invitation—included portraits of his artistic contemporaries, naturalistic landscapes, reproductive etchings of historical European paintings, and emblematic images of birds accompanied by poems (such as Margot the Critique, or The…

VMFA Intern Helps Prepare Félix Bracquemond’s Work for Exhibition

Reprinted from the WUDPAC (Winterthur) Class of 2016 blog with permission from Lauren Gottschlich. The summer work projects are in full swing. This summer I am at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond, VA.  The museum sports a wonderful encyclopedic collection as well as a picturesque Sculpture Garden.  The art covers cultures and…

Picasso Served Up in Rich Cinematic Terms

What is it about Merchant Ivory films that make them so handsome and erudite and yet so entertaining and giving? It is the touch that the team of Producer Ismail Merchant, Director James Ivory, and Screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala has treated audiences to for decades. This critic grieves that there be no one in this…