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Serving Wine to an Officer in a Guardroom

Jacob Duck

Serving Wine to an Officer in a Guardroom, 17th Century

Oil on Canvas


Purchased with funds from The Benjamin D. Bernstein Foundation, Mrs. Herbert Morris, Mr. & Mrs. John Shober 

A 17th century Dutch painter and etcher, Duck’s work typically depicts guardroom scenes, domestic activities, and merry companies of men. Duck usually placed his figures in high, bare interiors in which deep local colors in the foreground stand out well from the cool, grayish-brown background. The figures and their interactions within Duck’s paintings are often filled with underlying symbolic meaning. A recently discovered photograph of this painting, Serving Wine to an Officer in a Guardroom, reveals an anomaly in the positioning of the left-most figure’s hand. Ultra violet light shows a careful 20th century alteration which removes a rude hand gesture from Duck’s original. Although the exact date and purpose of this change is unknown, it is suspected the alteration was made to improve the value of the painting. The repaint plays with Duck’s original work and any symbolism the original hand gesture implied, a subtle detail which thoroughly alters the painting’s meaning. 

Condition of the Artwork (2009):

Fine, small scale, slightly cupped age cracking is visible overall. Examination under ultra violet light reveals many fine strokes of inpainting that appear to cover abrasions to dark colors and shadows. The old inpainting can be found in the background, figures, armor, and pewter tankard.

Minor abrasion is visible at the tips of the cupped age cracks in many areas. A thick, build up of shiny natural resin varnish is visible overall. The varnish has turned somewhat brown, milky and obscures the paint layer. Ultra violet light shows degraded natural resin is on top of most of the inpainting. There are some surface scratches that have fractured the varnish. 

Conservation Treatment Proposed: 

  • The changing of the composition by a previous restorer is inappropriate. Remove/reduce the degraded varnish layers with the appropriate cleaning agents.
  • Remove/reduce old inpainting with the appropriate cleaning agents.
  • Remove/reduce old remnants of grime and varnish lodged in paint interstices.
  • Apply a conservation quality isolating varnish overall.
  • Fill and inpaint paint losses with conservation quality materials.
  • Apply a conservation quality finish varnish overall.
  • All materials used will be appropriate and conservation quality. All work will adhere to the highest standards of the field.

Estimated Cost of Treatment:   $6,500.00