Alma Thomas (American, 1891-1978)
Still Life, 1956
Oil on Canvas
Gift of Joseph N. Gennett
Conserved in 2013 with Support from the Stockman Family Foundation
Condition Prior to Treatment (2009):
Support Condition: The canvas has become slightly slack and has an uneven, rippled appearance. One D-ring and screw holes for another indicate that the painting has been hung from its stretcher in the past.
Paint Layer Condition: There are fine, broad scale heavily cupped age cracks scattered overall. The cracking is severe enough to distort the surface plane of the canvas. Some areas of paint at age cracking are detaching from the canvas. There has been a ½”w x ¼” h paint loss in the central foreground. There is a 3” circle of severely detaching paint in the green upper background. Great care must be taken to prevent paint loss before it goes to a conservation studio.
Surface Film: The thick, overly shiny, yellowed varnish was added after the painting was placed in this frame. The frame was painted white after the painting was installed in it, so lines of white paint from the frame have been slopped onto the paint layer. One bit of white framing paint along the left edge has been partially painted over with a green that does not match the original paint.
Conservation Treatment (2013):
Insecure paint was consolidated with Beva 371 conservation adhesive and set in place with localized heat and pressure. This greatly reduced the cupped appearance of the paint layer and since the canvas appears to be relatively sound at this point in time, it was decided not to line the painting at this time. Staples were added to the tacking edge to better attach the canvas to the stretcher and the painting was keyed out slightly to further reduce surface plane distortions.
The thick, shiny, varnish layer was reduced with appropriate cleaning agents. The varnish could not be completely removed in many areas due to paint sensitivity. This revealed much more of the intended paint colors but left the surface with an uneven, varnish sheen. Upon closer examination, the dark, transparent green repaints were found not only at the edges but also covering damages in other areas of the painting. These repaints were reduced, but could not be completely removed in all cases. The white framing paint was removed from the edges by softening it with a solvent and then peeling it off with a scalpel, while viewing the surface under magnification.
An isolating layer of PVA AYAA (polyvinyl acetate, Union Carbide) was applied overall. Paint losses were filled with pigmented microcrystalline wax. Paint losses were inpainted with pigments in PVA AYAA/AYAC. A final layer of Beva UVS Matt Finishing Varnish (Regalrez) was applied to even the sheen.