La Salle University Art Museum
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Study for Portrait of Neil Welliver

Alex Katz

Study for Portrait of Neil Welliver, 1946

Oil on Canvas


Gift of Neil Welliver 

Katz’s style is most closely associated with the Pop Art Movement of the 1960s. He specializes in close-cropped portraits of friends and relatives. Neil Welliver, the painting’s subject, was a close personal friend and major Philadelphia-based American landscape painter. This is an oil study created in preparation for a finished portrait. Rather than following the conventions of portraiture handed down from the Renaissance, Katz looks for inspiration in commercial art forms such as billboards and advertisements. Welliver’s flattened and simplified face shows no wrinkles or imperfections, and Katz concentrates on formal concerns rather than on the sitter’s personality. 

Condition of the Artwork (2009): 

The bottom corners of canvas have slight surface distortions. The strip of darker green landscape at lower right has a pronounced contraction cracking. There is a 1” diameter patch of finely cracked paint with a small canvas puncture and visible threads in the upper left background.

There are several brownish deposits that were on the canvas surface before the paint was applied that have cracked and now show thru the paint. There is a small brown drip and some brown debris stuck on the paint surface in the upper left background. There are some small brown spots on the paint surface in the upper left background and in his hair; under ultra violet light these spots glow quite green. There may be a slight accumulation of grime overall. 

Conservation Treatment Proposed: 

  • Consolidate insecure paint with a conservation quality adhesive.
  • Mend canvas puncture with a conservation quality adhesive.
  • Remove/reduce grime and surface spots with appropriate cleaning agents.
  • Fill puncture with a conservation quality filling material.
  • Inpaint paint loss and staining with conservation quality materials.
  • All materials used will be appropriate and conservation quality. All work will adhere to the highest standards of the field.

Conserved in 2011-2012 With Support from the Stockman Family Foundation

(See Online Exhibition of Conservation Treatments)