Conservation Fiction

(Or Fiction that Acknowledges the Existence of Conservation and Conservators)

Rebecca Anne Rushfield & Patricia S. Griffin

If you have additions, updates, or corrections, please send them to Rebecca A. Rushfield <wittert@juno.com>

Printed Works
Novels
Short Stories
Visual Works
Films
Plays
Television Programs
Television Commercials
Brief Mentions

Printed works

Novels

Aridjis, Chloe
Asunder.
2013
Marie, the main character, is a guard in the National Gallery, London where her great-grandfather had been a guard. As the novel progresses, Marie becomes increasingly fascinated by the craquelure in the paintings' surfaces.

Banks, Oliver
The Caravaggio Obsession
1984
Contains a description of the conservation of a painting

Banville, John
Athena: A Novel
New York: Alfred A. Knopf; Distributed by Random House, 1995. 232 p.
An art expert with a criminal past authenticating paintings for a gang meets a woman who seems to have emerged from ONE OF the paintings

Barnes, Julian
Love, etc
2000
The lives and loves of a group of friends including two paintings conservators

Bonfiglioli, Kyril
Don't Point That Thing at Me.
Overlook Press 1973; reprint 2004.
Charlie Mortdecai, a London art dealer, arranges the theft of a Goya for an American tycoon. The book includes descriptions of technical matters like the transfer of paintings and the use of ultraviolet light to spot retouching

Bradley, John Ed
Restoration
Doubleday, 2003.
A restorer in New Orleans and a WPA mural that was whitewashed to avoid a scandal. An analogy between covering/uncovering paintings and passing as white in the South. The artist was a light-skinned black man and his granddaughter is the restorer.

Brooks, Geraldine
People of the Book.
Viking Adult, 2008. 384 pages.
It is 1996 and Hanna Heath, an Australian book conservator has been asked to analyze and treat the Sarajevo Haggadah which has been salvaged from a Bosnian museum.

Carey, Peter
The Chemistry of Tears
Faber, 2012.
Catherine Gehrig, a conservator who is mourning the death of her colleague and longtime secret lover, is given the challenging project of restoring a 19th century mechanical duck. Catherine's project is based on the real life conservation of a silver swan automaton undertaken by Matthew Read of West Dean College.

Carlisle, Kate
Homicide in hardcover
2009.
Brooklyn Wainwright, a restorer of books, must both finish her mentor's work and find his killer after he is murdered.

Charney, Noah
The Art Thief.
Washington Square Press: 2008.
A very poorly written story of art theft and forgery with a minor character, Genevieve Delacloche, who trained as a conservator.

Clavir, Miriam
Insinuendo.
Bayeux Arts Inc.2012.
Berry Cates, a middle aged conservation intern at the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology uncovers a forger and solves a murder mystery as she tries to do her job..

Cohen, Arthur Allen
Artists & Enemies: Three Novellas
Boston: Godine, 1987. 274 p.
A collection of three novellas in the first, an artist who wanted to be great, but lacks talent, must find glory in restoring the masters' works

Coker, Carolyn
Appearance of Evil
New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993. 244 p.
Art restorer Andrea Perkins working on a commission at the Huntington Museum in Southern California gets drawn into a murder investigation

Colt, Cassandra
A brush With Passion
Columbus, Miss.: Genesis Press Inc., 2000. 276 p.
Part of the Secret Library Series—Erotica for Women by Women, it features Nina Ashton who comes to Los Angeles to carve out her career in fine art restoration.

Connor, Beverly
One Grave Too Many
2003
Murder and mayhem in a natural history museum involves the usual suspects including the conservator

Coomer, Joe
The Loop
A stray parrot flies into the lives of an officer with the Texas Courtesy Patrol and a sensuous repairer of books.

De Bernières, Louis
Corelli's mandolin
New York: Pantheon Books, 1994. 437 p.
Set in Greece in the early days of World War II. Speaks a lot about the technology of instrument manufacture in the Baroque period.

Dick, Philip K.
Galactic Pot-Healer
Berkeley, 1969
Joe Fernwright is a restorer of old ceramics in a future when the Earth is overcrowded , but few get anything worthwhile to do. Fernwright's problem is that there are almost no ceramics left to restore. He is rescued from this hopelessly meaningless existence when he is contacted by an alien being, the Glimmung, who hires him to help in the complicated task of raising and restoring an ancient cathedral from the ocean floor of distant Plowman's planet.

Disher, Gerry
"Straight, Bent and Barbara Vine"
Allen & Unwin, 1998
A collection of short stories including one in which a conservator Restoring a flood-damaged Venetian crypt suspects that he has been implicated in a murder.

Dunbar, Catherine
False Image
2000
A murder mystery featuring a paintings conservator

Faber, Michel
The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps
1999
A romance featuring a shell-shocked paper conservator recuperating on an archaeological dig and a handsome local doctor with a neurotic dog

Fairstein, Linda
The Bone Vault
A mystery in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cloisters, and the Museum of Natural History. An intern is found dead in a mummy sarcophagus, poisoned by pigments used in the conservation of illuminated manuscripts.

Forbes, Leslie
Waking Raphael
Bantam, June 29, 2004 448 p.
Charlotte, a paintings conservator visits the Italian city of Urbino to take part in a documentary about Raphael. One of his paintings is damaged in an attack by a woman and Charlotte oversees the conservation process. Contains some great descriptions of "conservators" thinking and observations on self perception and the perception of others about the conservation process.

Frucht, Abby
Life Before Death 1997
A story of a 40 year old woman dying from cancer, but, since she is a curator at a historical society which has just burnt down in a fire, it includes a rather good description of museum employees working to salvage what remains of the collection and prepare it for conservation

Funke, Cornelia
Inkheart.
2003.
In this fantasy for older children, 12 year old Maggie and her father Mo, a book conservator, travel the countryside repairing books. One night, Dustfinger, a character from a book who Mo had brought to life some time before, shows up and the adventure begins. Maggie and her father also appear in Inkspell, a 2005 sequel to Inkheart.

Gaddis, William
A Frolic of His Own
One of the characters is a sculptor who is suing to prevent the destruction of one of his works--an enormous outdoor installation in which a dog has become trapped

Goodrum, Robert A.
Dewey Decimated
1977; Harper & Row paperback 1988. 245 p.
The story involves the authenticity of some items in a rare book collection. A book conservator who works in a locked cage in the stacks of a library is found brutally murdered.

Hammond, Gerald
Grail for Sale
Severn House, 2002. 224 p.
Scottish historian Jeremy Carpenter and American antiques dealer Hazel Tripp team up to get back at a man who has injured them. In the course of the plot which involves a forged antique and the discussion of fabrication techniques, Hazel repairs a number of antiques.

Houghteling, Sara
Pictures at an Exhibition
2009.
After World War II, Max Berenzon—an impetuous young man who yearns to fill the shoes of his elegant father who was an art dealer and patron to the likes of Picasso and Matisse—searches for his father's plundered art collection with the help of Rose, a talented art connoisseur. The story includes descriptions of the art works in the Louvre being prepared/packed for moving before Paris was invaded by the German army during World War II.

Hegarty, Francis
Half Light
A paintings restorer whose real life pales in comparison to the vivid fantasies that she weaves around the paintings she restores (and repaints) receives a commission to restore a collection in the house of a recluse. He is an obsessed stalker type who has loved her from afar. Contains much sexual pathology.

Hines, Joanna
Angels of the Flood
Simon & Schuster Ltd, 2004.
Paintings restorer Kate Howard receives a 16th century Italian painting that has been crudely altered. This is the third such painting she has seen in as many years. Despite unhappy memories of the 1966 Florence Flood, she is drawn back to Italy to investigate.

Holt, Victoria
King of the Castle
The heroine is a 19th century art restorer hired by a French count to restore the family paintings

Holt, Victoria
The demon lover
Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1982. 377 p.
This is a florid historical romance of the classic bodice-ripper variety. Heroine whose virtue is seriously compromised whilst in a purposefully drugged state is a miniature painter much like her father. Technique and patronage is discussed.

Hoving, Thomas
Discovery
1989
Conservators unroll ancient scrolls

———
Masterpiece
1986
Innes, Hammond
Isvik 1989
The recovery of an old frigate locked in the ice in Antarctica involves a young Englishman who is an expert on wood preservation

Kreuger, Frederik H.
De restauratie. Op zoek naar de verdwenen stroken van de Nachtwacht
2000
In Dutch. A fictional story about the missing parts from Rembrandt's Night Watch

Kurzweil, Allen
The Grand Complication
New York: Hyperion, 2001. 359 p.
A NYPL reference librarian hired by a mysterious old man to do some freelance research. There are a few scenes involving the cranky conservator at the library, from whose workshop the main character must smuggle a rare book he needs for his research.

Lieberman, H.
The Girl with the Botticelli Eyes
1996
Botticelli show at the Metropolitan Museum; painting is damaged and sent to an Italian restoration atelier in a climate controlled crate

Llewellyn, Caroline
The Masks of Rome 1989
Canadian art restorer recovering from a bitter divorce in Rome discovers that her employer's family masterpiece is a forgery.

McKean, James
Quattrocento
2002
A paintings restorer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art discovers a Leonardo and indulges in some time travel

McLoed, Charlotte
The Resurrection Man
1992
This is one of a series featuring Boston art detective Max Bittersohn and his wife Sarah Kelling. Recently treated works of art go missing and signs point to the involvement of newly arrived art restored Bartolo Arbalest.

Michaels, Anne
Fugitive Pieces
1998
The fictional story of a Polish Jewish man who was smuggled out of Poland and to Greece by a Greek archaeologist who is an expert in the conservation of waterlogged wood

Murphy Corella, Daniella
The Restorer
2011.
A conservator uncovers a lost fresco in a remote Italian church.

Ondaatje, Michael
Anil's Ghost
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000. 311 p.
An artisan is brought to Buduruvagala in Sri Lanka to oversee the reconstruction of a 120 foot high statue of the Buddha which had been dynamited.

O'Neill, Rose
The Lady in the White Veil
1909
A stolen and forged work by Titian features in the story. Oscar, the forger, claims to have been driven mad by the fact that he is the one living man who knows what pigments Titian used.

Pears, Iain
Death and restoration
London: HarperCollins, 1996. 223 p.
A mystery involving an American paintings restorer and a Caravaggio painting

Perez-Reverte, Arturo
The Flanders Panel
1994
A hidden chess-related inscription surfaces during the cleaning of a 15th century Flemish painting and Julia, the young Spanish art restorer who makes the discovery, turns to others for help in intuiting its meaning; murder follows.

Peters, Elizabeth (aka Barbara Michaels)
The Ape Who Guards the Balance: An Amelia Peabody Mystery
New York, N.Y.: Avon Twilight, c1998. 376 p.
One of the more recent books n the Amelia Peabody mysteries set in the dawn of the modern era of Egyptology (pre-discovery of Tut's Tomb). Some discussion of "proper" conservation practices straight out of Lucas (ie. paraffin/wax impregnation).

Price, Reynolds
The Good Priest's Son
New York: Scribner, 2005. 278 p.
A middle aged art conservator of some renown(with a degree from the University of Delaware program) copes with 9-11, his aging father's health, and his own health crisis⅀the onset of multiple sclerosis⅀but not with many works of art.

Resnicow, Herbert
The Gold Frame
A murder mystery in which one of the characters is an obsessive, paranoid, anal-retentive conservator.

Roth, Phillip
The Dying Animal
2001
One of academic David Kepesh's ex-wives, mentioned but not seen, is an art restorer

Shapiro, B.A.
The Art Forger
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill 2012.
Claire Roth, a painter of "commissioned reproductions" is asked by a dealer to copy a painting that is suspiciously like the Degas stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990. Much about the logistics of forgery and attribution.

Shapiro, Dani
Family History
Knopf, 2003, 288 p.
The protagonist is a freelance paintings restorer whose family life is falling apart.

Shoup, Barbara
Faithful Women: A Novel
2000
The story moves around in time and place, but includes a detailed description of how to restore a painting

Strutton, Bill
The Carpaccio caper
New York, Coward, McCann & Geoghegan [1973] 191 p.
Forgery and descriptions of conservation

Styron, Alexandra
All the Finest Girls
2001
A New York art restorer faces some ugly truths about her family when she seeks out the kin of the Caribbean housekeeper who raised her.

Tartt, Donna
The Goldfinch.
2013.
While the story of how a terrorist bombing in the Metropolitan Museum of Art which kills his mother and propels him to steal a painting affects the life of 13 year old Theodore Decker, a furniture restorer is an important character and there are many descriptions of the examination and restoration/reconstruction of furniture.

Swan, Thomas
The Cézanne chase
New York: Newmarket Press, 1997. 307 p.
Two Cezanne portraits are destroyed in an attempt to manipulate the black market in art; many descriptions of the forensic examination of works of art to determine provenance/authenticity

Vickers, Sally
Miss Garnet's Angel
2000.
A romance novel featuring two conservators in Venice restoring mosaics and stonework with an intertwining thread of the story of the Book of Tobit

Watkins, Paul
The Forger
New York: Picador USA, 2000. 1st ed. 322 p. ISBN: 031226593X. ISBN: 9780312265939
A young American goes to Paris before World War II to study art under an expatriate Russian artist who was once a restorer but who is now a forger. The two of them forge classical works which they trade to the Nazis for modern paintings.

Watson, Peter
The Caravaggio conspiracy: how five art dealers, four policemen, three picture restorers, two auction houses, and a journalist plotted to recover some of the world's most beautiful stolen paintings
Double-dealer Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, c1984. 321 p.
Investigative reporter poses as dealer to recover stolen paintings. Many descriptions of connoisseurship/authentication procedures and techniques of old master paintings. Journalist Peter Watson pretends to be a dealer with a limp to uncover stolen art market. Connoisseurship is the bottom line. Technique and state of preservation including restoration are discussed for many artists and specific works.

Zwargerman, Joost
Duel
2011.
A novel in which a conservator is an important character and in which a valuable painting by Mark Rothko is copied, stolen, and accidentally damaged. Commissioned in 2011 as the "Book Week in the Netherlands" giveaway book and distributed to hundreds of thousands of people free of charge

Zuravleff, Mary Kay
The Bowl is already broken.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
2005.
In this farce of museum life, a valuable bowl is "accidentally" dropped during a public presentation of the gift in a museum that bears a strong resemblance to the Freer Gallery. The museum employs a conservation staff consisting of six Japanese men and an American woman who eats only raw food.

Short Stories

Hawthorne, Nathaniel
"Edward Randolph's Portrait>
1838.
Alice Vane, a pale, ethereal artist disrupts the war deliberations of a Colonial council when she cleans a grimy portrait hanging in the chambers, revealing a dark omen.

Lively, Penelope
Comet.
Viking Adult, 2005
Short story in the collection Making It Up. Middle aged conservator of ethnographic objects finds love when she asks a freelance conservator working for her institution to restore a locket that had belonged to her dead half-sister.

Mason, Bobbie Ann
"With Jazz" Published in The New Yorker, February 26, 1990
The main character's daughter is divorced from a museum director who restored old pieces of pottery (Note: "He made a good living")

Warner, Sylvia Townsend
"A Saint (Unknown) With Two Donors," in One Thing Leading to Another
Mr. Edom and his assistant, Mr. Collins, "restore" a stolen statue

——— "The Three Cats," in One Thing Leading to Another
A mention of family portraits being cleaned by the caretaker at the auction rooms who does it in his spare time using a cleaner called Roll It Off

Forgery and descriptions of conservation (Subject)

Bantock, Nick
The Venetian's Wife
Sarah Wolf, a bored paintings restorer corresponds with a ghost with more than a passing interest in the Kama Sutra ( is the author of Griffin and Sabine)

Barnes, Julian
Talking It Over
A retelling of the Truffaut classic Jules and Jim in which the female is a paintings restorer and the victorious male applies the term reversibility, as used by conservators, to relationships.

Carr, J. L.
A Month in the Country 1980
In 1920, a restorer of wall paintings emotionally and physically affected by his service in WWI and an archaeologist working nearby search for a 14th century grave

Cass, Zoe
A Twist in the Silk
A romance novel about a textile conservator

Child, Lincoln; Preston, Douglas J. & Colacci, David
Relic
At the Museum of natural History, a male ethnographic conservator stumbles upon the remains of victim number 1 in the first few pages and quits his job. The heroine, a graduate student in evolutionary biology shares an office with a young female conservator working on a collection of masks who is disparaged for the slowness with which her work proceeds. Many museum employees are murdered before the story ends.

Coker, Carolyn
The Other David
A suspense novel featuring Andrea, a young American restorer of Renaissance paintings who does a lot of analytical testing of samples (e.g. carbon-14 dating) by herself

Davies, Robertson
What's Bred in the Bone 1985
In the 1930s, Francis Cornish becomes an apprentice to the greatest restorer of paintings who doesn't just restore paintings but "improves" them. Cornish creates his own works which are proved authentic by other experts

Dela, Helena
The Count. A modern fairy tale
London: Piatkus, 1999
Ella is about to lose her job in the book restoration department of the British Library due to outsourcing. She marries a German count, breaks a family curse, and restores the ancestral castle in the Alps with the help of conservation students and some ghosts.

Dunnett, Dorothy
Niccolo Rising
Niccolo, the main character lives in Bruges in the 15th century and is involved in the textile industry; there is a lengthy discourse on lake dyes

Harvey, John
In a True Light
Carroll & Graf, 2003. 256 p.
Sloane, a painter recently released from prison after serving time for art forgery looks for the grown daughter he has not seen in years. Art forgery is discussed but is tangential to the plot.

Hellenga, Robert
The Sixteen Pleasures
Warner Books. 327 pages. 1994
An American paper conservator goes to Florence to help out after the flood and has an affair with an Italian paintings restorer

———
The Italian Lover., Little, Brown and Company. 2007. 352 pages
It is the year 1990 and book conservator Margot Harrington who we first met in 1966 in Florence saving flood damaged rare books in Hellenga's book √ĘThe Sixteen Pleasures√Ę is still conserving books there. A film crew has come to make a movie of the book she wrote about her experience finding a rare erotic Renaissance volume.

Hillerman, Tony
Talking God
A conservator with a limp who is 1/16th Native American recreates artworks for displays so that he can repatriate the originals

Inchbald, Peter
Short Break in Venice 1984
A Scotland Yard Art and Antiquities Squad detective who knows a great deal about art restoration is on vacation in Venice and becomes involved in the vandalism by right-wing terrorists of art shops

Johnson, Terry
Hitchcock Blonde
Play Royal Court Theater, London: 2003.
Two characters look at deteriorated film canisters containing unfinished works by Hitchcock. The conditions of the film strips as well as treatments to separate the celluloid are described.

Kaewert, Julie
Unbound
Bantam paperback
One of a series of books about British book publisher Alex Plumtree, it features book restorers and book conservators.

———
Untitled
Bantam paperback
One of a series of books about British book publisher Alex Plumtree, it features book restorers and book conservators.

Langton, Jane
Murder at the Gardner 1988
Descriptions of conservation

Lester, Judy (Dr. Leslie Carlyle)
Masterpiece of Deception: An Art Mystery
2001
An art restorer and a fraud involving an overpainted panel

McDonald, Frank
Provenance 1980
Descriptions of conservation

Michaels, Barbara
Shattered Silk.
Atheneum, 1986
In this mystery, after a broken marriage, Karen Nevitt returns to her old home town and opens a vintage clothing store. Included are mentions of the cleaning and restoration of costume pieces.

———
Stitches in Time
Harper Collins, 1991
A cursed antebellum quilt wrecks havoc for the owners and employee of an antique shop specializing in textiles. They do their own cleaning and conservation and there is some discussion of dry and wet cleaning as well as handling issues.

———
Vanish with the Rose
New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991. 348 pages
In this mystery, Diana goes to a small town posing as a landscape architect to investigate what happened to her missing brother. A minor character is a textile conservator at the local museum.

Miglis, John
Masterwork 1980
Restoration of The Night Watch

Murray, Yxta Maya
The Conquest
New York: Harper Collins, 2002
Sara Gonzales a restorer of rare books and manuscripts at the Getty Museum is assigned the restoration of a 16th century book called The Conquest. The narrative alters between Sara's story and the story told in The Conquest.
Olaffson, Olaf
Restoration:A Novel
2012.

In one of several interconnected plots, Kristin Jonsdottir, a young Icelandic painter, living in Rome in the 1940s serving as both apprentice and lover to Robert Marshall, famed restorer of, and dealer in, Italian Renaissance masterworks uses a heavily damaged but minor painting as a template to create what she will present as a hitherto undiscovered Caravaggio. The painting ends up in German hands

Philipson, Morris H.
Somebody Else's Life: A Novel New York: Harper & Row, 1987. 298 p.

Cook, Robin
Sphinx
1980
Mainly a thriller about black market in egyptian antiquities. Heroine comically authenticates Egyptian artifacts because the paint is not water (spit) soluble. Also made into a movie starring Stephanie Zimbalist, Frank Langella, and Tut inspired "props".

Pottinger, Stanley
A Slow Burning
One of the main characters is Camilla Bissonette, an architectural conservator who worked on the Statue of Liberty. (Her recovery from a coma brought on by a violent crime is an important part of the plot.)

Roberts, Nora
Homeport
New York: Jove Books, 1999.
Art theft and forgery of Renaissance bronzes in a glamorized world of archeometry labs in Florence and art institutes in new England complete with "labs", conservation studios, students, and opening nights of exhibitions.

Sontag, Susan
The Volcano Lover
Several pages about the Portland Vase (British Museum Collection) being shattered by a vandal in 1845, repaired, and reconstructed again in 1989 (This description is a counterpoint to a discussion of whether a reputation, once shattered, can be put back together.)

Silva, Daniel
———
The Kill Artist
Random House, 2000
One of a series of books about Gabriel Allon, a paintings restorer who is also a Mossad agent

———
The English Assassin
Putnam, 2002
One of a series of books about Gabriel Allon, a paintings restorer who is also a Mossad agent
———
The Confessor
Putnam, 2003
Gabriel Allon, a paintings restorer who is also a Mossad agent is sent from his current project in a Venetian church to investigate the death of a Jewish scholar in Munich.

———
A Death in Vienna
Putnam, 2004
One of a series of books about Gabriel Allon, a paintings restorer who is also a Mossad agent
———
Prince of Fire.
Putnam, 2005.
In Venice and about to restore a Rubens painting, art restorer and Israeli agent Gabriel Allon is called away to investigate the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Rome which was masterminded by French archaeologist Paul Martineau.

———
The Messenger
2006.

———
The Secret Servant
2007.

———
Moscow Rules
2008.
———
The Defector.
2009.
Six months after the conclusion of his last case, art restorer and assassin Gabriel Allon has returned to Umbria to resume his honeymoon and restore a 17th century altarpiece for the Vatican, but when a former Russian intelligence officer and defector vanishes, he must go back to spy work.


Truman, Margaret
Murder at the Library of Congress
Fawcett, 2001. Paperback 320 pages. ISBN: 031226593X. ISBN: 9780312265939
Annabel Reed Smith a gallery owner has been asked to write an article on Columbus for the Library of Congress's magazine. She finds the premier expert on him dead in the Library&8212;killed by the paper conservator's trapezoidal lead weight. Members of the Library's conservation staff appear in the story.

Murder at the White House
Conservation is not central to the plot. However, a conservator from the National gallery must determine whether or not the Caravaggio can travel

Unsworth, Barry
Stone Virgin 1986
A story which moves from 1432, when a likeness of the Madonna is carved, to 1972, when a young Englishman comes to Venice to restore it

Vickers, Salley
Miss Garnet's Angel 2001
Judy Garnet, a retired London school teacher goes to Venice where she befriends a number of people including a pair of British twins who are restoring a 14th century chapel

Wesley, Mary
Second Fiddle 1989
The main character is Laura Thornby, an art restorer who divides her time between London, where she repairs classical statues, and her mother's home in the country

Visual Works

Films


Der Amerikanische Freunde
Directed by Wim Wenders, Germany, 1977
An art restorer becomes involved in a murderous scheme in this existential take on the American gangster film.

Antigua vida mia
Directed by Hèctor Olivera, Argentina, 2001
The film tells the story of two friends, a singer/songwriter and an art restorer. Based on a novel of the same name by the Chilean writer Marcela Serrano.

Barocco/Baroque
Directed by Claudio Sestrieri, Italian, 1991
Human emotions in the modern world of telecommunications are examined through the relationships of Valeria, a student in fine art restoration

Bean
Directed by Mel Smith, English, 1997
Mr. Bean (Roland Atkinson) is a London museum guard who is hated by his co-workers who send him to Los Angeles in the company of "Whistler's Mother". He is mistaken as an art expert by the well-meaning curator of an L.A. museum. Bean's eccentric behavior, which includes the surface cleaning of the aforementioned painting, almost cost him his job and family.

Belle ar Bar
Italian, 1995
Romantic comedy about the friendship between an unhappily married male restorer and a transvestite who meet years after a childhood friendship when they are trapped in an elevator (The restorer is obsessive, methodical and phobic.)

Blood Tide
Directed by Richard Jefferies, 1982.
A horror movie set in the Greek Isles featuring James Earl Jones as an American treasure hunter. Includes a scene of a restorer removing strappo from a painting to reveal older paintings beneath.

Born Romantic
Directed by David Kane, British, 2000
Romantic comedy with a main character who works as a paintings conservator in London.

La casa dalle finestre che ridono
Directed by Pupi Avati, Italy, 1976
A horror movie set in Italy in the 1950s. A young art restorer arrives in a small town to restore and finish a fresco. Bad things happen.

Deceived
Directed by Damian Harris, 1991
Goldie Hawn and her best friend/business partner run a conservation studio in New York. Life is great until her husband is revealed to be a bigamist, fraud, faker and killer. A conservation scientist is killed in the initial sequence after performing a microchemical fizz test on an Egyptian artifact

Domani
Directed by Francesca Archibugi, Italy, 2001
An ensemble film set in a small Umbrian town after an earthquake. One of the many story lines includes that of an English art restorer and his troubled wife.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Directed by Hosoda, Mamoru, Japan 2006
In this animated science fiction film, seventeen-year-old Makoto Konno who lives with her parents and younger sibling Miyuki in Tokyo gains the power of time travel. Her aunt Kazuko Yoshiyama is an art restorer at the Tokyo National Museum.


Don't Look Now
Directed by Nicholas Roeg, late 1970s
Donald Sutherland is in Venice restoring a church (but this can be overlooked amidst occult nuances, sex and bloody murder)

Ghostbusters II
Directed by Ivan Reitman, 1989
Sigourney Weaver making ends meet by working in a paintings restoration studio on a possessed painting under the supervision of a lecherous, soon to be possessed, "European" restorer

Un Etrange Voyage
Also known as On the Track, Les Voyageurs, The Travellers, A Strange Voyage, and A Strange Journey.
Directed by Alain Cavalier, 1980
The mother of a middle aged male art restorer disappears during a train journey. The restorer and his estranged daughter investigate.

Hard Rain
Also known as The Flood
Directed by Mikael Salomon, 1998
Minnie Driver plays a church restorer who manages to save her work and her town from rising Waters and marauding robbers

Head Over Heels
Directed by Mark S. Waters, 2001
An art restorer working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art falls for a fashion executive played by Freddie Prinze, Jr.

Home for the Holidays
Directed by Jody Foster, 1995
Holly Hunter plays a paintings conservator who goes home for Thanksgiving after being fired by her museum because they lost their NEA funding

Hudson Hawk
Directed by Michael Lehmann, USA, 1991
Andie MacDowell plays a Vatican art restorer in this movie that has Bruce Willis involved in a scheme to steal three paintings in order to retrieve an alchemical device.

Leonardon Ikkunat Finland, 1986
Maria and Marco, two restorers who have been working for 12 years on The Last Supper begin to identify with the figures in the painting

Love, etc.
Directed by Marion Vernoux, France, 1996
This film follows three main characters through love, friendship, suspicion and remorse. One of them is an art restorer played by charlotte Gainsbourg.

Manchas de sangre en un coche nuevo (Blood Stains in a New Car)
Directed by Antonio Mercero, Spanish, 1975
A wealthy male art restorer does not stop to help at a terrible accident because he does not want to get his new car dirty

La Madre Muerta
Directed by Juanma Bajo Ullöa, 1993
A paintings restorer is killed in a bungled burglary. Years later the burglar develops a relationship with her mute, mentally ill daughter.

Meridian: Mark of the Beast
Also known as Kiss of the Beast and Phantoms
Directed by Charles Band, 1990
Sherilyn Fenn plays the Lady of the castle. Her best friend works in an Italian restoration studio and is restoring a 15th century painting from the castle by brushing away an ugly modern painting which was painted over it (A proto-Twin Peaks European production)

Michael
Directed by Nora Ephron, 1996
An angel puts a cue stick through a painting in a pool hall brawl; the judge at the arraignment claims to know a good conservator

Il Momento dell'Avventura (The Moment of Adventure)
Directed by Faliero Rosati, Italian, 1983
A museum restorer makes copies of sculpture to replace the originals which he sells to a dealer. He discovers an ancient map to an undiscovered archaeological site and sets off with a forger to find the treasure.

A Month in the Country
Directed by Pat O'Connor, English, 1987
A restorer of wall paintings in a country church and an archeologist (played by Kenneth Branaugh) working nearby solve a mystery using their two disciplines

Obsession
Directed by Brian DePalma, 1976.
Genevieve Bujold plays a paintings conservator/technician who is cleaning a mural in an Italian chapel. The film is inspired by Hitchcock's Vertigo.

El Pájaro de la felicidad (The Bird of Happiness)
Directed by Pilar Miró 1993
A Spanish paintings restorer is brutally raped and comes to terms with the experience

A Question of Attribution
Directed by John Schlesinger, 1992 (made for British television)
Adapted from the play by Alan Bennett. James Fox as Sir Anthony Blunt, Director of the Courtauld, whose involvement in the Burgess-Maclean-Philby spy scandal of the 1950s is revealed while he is restoring a Titian from the collection

Raiders of the Lost Ark
Directed by Stephen Spielberg, 1981
Indiana Jones, an archaeologist performs conservation treatments like cleaning sandstone hieroglyphs using a gentle air current and restoring a staff (which enables him to locate the lost ark)

The Red Violin
Directed by François Girard, Canadian, 1998
The movie follows the life of a red violin from 17th century Italy to late 20th century Montreal. The violin is almost destroyed in China during the Cultural Revolution, but is saved and sent to an auction house in Montreal where Samuel L. Jackson is a specialist who traces its provenance. From a review by Steve Rhodes

"The plot is an intriguing one. A dishonest violin restorer, Charles Morritz ([Samuel L.] Jackson), believes he has located Nicolo Bussotti's famous red violin. Described as the "single most perfect acoustical machine" ever, the violin has had a long and troubled history. The movie skips back to its controversial birth in 1681 and then flashes forward and backward in time as it traces the violin's world travels."


Roma
Directed by Frederico Fellini, 1972
Contains a scene in which workmen building a subway line uncover a brilliant-colored ancient Roman mosaic which, exposed to air and light for the first time in centuries, fades and vanishes before their eyes

The Relic
Directed by Peter Hyams, 1997
Although conservators figure more prominently in the book (see plot summary under Books), Linda Hunt brings some undistinguished hunks of rock to the restoration studio--a dark hole with one female presiding--where she uses a flexible shaft and rotating bit to clean the statue, reassembles it and gives the audience its first real look at the monster

Running Woman
Directed by Rachel Samuels, USA, 1998
An art restorer goes undercover to track down car jackers who killed her son.

The Seventh Sign
Directed by Carl Schultz, 1988
Demi Moore plays a pregnant paintings restorer who is also the reincarnation of Mary Magdalene. The latter information takes precedence for the film's plot and, although she saves the souls of all humanity, she does not save any art on screen

Sankara (Introspection)
Directed by Jayakody, Prasanna
Film Sri Lanka, 2006.
The inner struggles of a young Buddhist monk who comes to restore a village temple's paintings and finds himself attracted to a village girl. He is shown over painting the murals using traditional materials and techniques.

Six Degrees of Separation
Directed by Fred Schepisi, 1993
In one scene, the Kittredges, an art dealer and wife visit the Sistine Chapel while it is undergoing restoration

Tea With Mussolini
Directed by Franco Zeffirelli, 1999dd>An amateur artist played by Judi Dench and her friends save the medieval church of San Gemignano during World War II. Dench then retouches the damaged frescoes

Toy Story 2
Directed by Ash Brannon &John Lasseter, 1999
Scene showing woody being restored

Vasarma's Lovers
Directed by Madhurika Sona Jain, USA, 2000
This film is 12 minutes long. Vasarma, the great Indian artist of the 18th century is famous for his lost masterpiece which he tore up upon the death of his lover. Over 200 years later, one half of the same painting surfaces in an art conservator's studio in British Columbia.

Uncovered
Also known as The Flemish Board (La Tabla de Flanders)
Directed by Jim McBride, Great Britain and Spain, 1994
(See Books for a description of the story) A never-released movie(?) with Kate Beckinsale as Julia, the art restorer heroine

What Dreams May Come
Directed by Vincent Ward, USA, 1998
Robin William's wife is a painter and art conservator in this film set primarily in a visually stunning afterlife.

Plays

Building Sympathy: The Richard Nickel Story
Produced at the Center Theater Ensemble, Chicago, Nov.- Dec. 1997
An architectural preservationist/photographer and his quest to preserve Chicago landmarks

Bennett, Alan
A Question of Attribution
1988
A one act play first performed in 1988 which formed the basis of a 1992 television film of the same name broadcast as part of the BBC's Screen One series. It portrays Anthony Blunt's interrogation by MI5 officers, his work, and his acquaintance with the Queen. While supervising the restoration of a dual portrait questionably attributed to Titian, Blunt discovers a third figure that had been painted over by an unknown artist. In a scene with the Queen, she and Blunt briefly discuss the Dutch Vermeer forger Han van Meegeren, and how his paintings now look like fakes, but were accepted as genuine in the (early) 1940s, and touch on the nature of fakes and secrets.

Djerassi, Carl
Phallacy
American premier May-June 2007
Regina is an art historian at a world famous museum who has invested her career in a classical statue long thought to be a Roman original. Rex is a distinguished chemist who analyses it and finds it to be a 16th century cast. Personal rivalries and professional reputations clash as each tries to prove the other wrong.

Edgar, David
Pentecost
First staged at the Royal Shakespeare Company in October 1994
In a Romanesque church in southeastern Europe, an heroic revolutionary mural is found to be covering a Byzantine wall painting. The political thriller unfolds as conservators expose the underlying painting and prepare to remove it safely

Kramer, Sherry
What A Man Weighs
1990
Employees in a book conservation laboratory and their failed

Lessac, Michael
House of Cards
1993
An architect who has spent several years working on an archeological restoration in Mexico Returns home to North Carolina with her two children, one of whom is autistic relationships

Mud Angels
Tentindo, Luis director
first performed December 2009.
The story of a book restorer working in Florence after the 1966 flood told as a puppet show.

Shear, Claudia writer
Restoration
first performed June 2009.
A former rising star in the world of art restoration, now working out of her Brooklyn garage get another chance to reinvigorate her career when she is chosen to restore Michelangelo's David.

Television Shows

CSI
American television program
Episode involving a book conservator replacing original volumes with fakes while conducting an affair with the curator who ends up killing her.

Taggat
British television program
Gruff Scottish sleuth who meets the restorer from the Glasgow Art Gallery and his wife who are buying his house.

Early Edition
The main character (who knows about the future from an early edition of the newspaper that he receives) tries to prevent the theft of a painting in the Chicago Museum of Art; a young paintings restorer is cleaning the painting when he arrives at the Museum

Framed
BBC television movie
August 31,2009 released on PBS Video on January 11, 2011
The story of a young boy in the poor Welsh village of Manod whose life is changed when a convoy of trucks containing the masterworks of the National Gallery (London) arrives in his village. The National Gallery has flooded and the works are to be stored in the mines outside of town where they were sent for safekeeping during World War II. The man in charge of the operation is Quentin Lester, a curator and not one of the National Gallery's many conservators.

Law and Order
"Summer of 1996"
The murderer of a coin dealer is a talented and obsessive paintings restorer

Midsomer Murders: Beyond the Grave"
British TV Series
A painting is vandalized and a conservator is brought to restore it, but she becomes frightened in the supposedly haunted museum. In separate incidents, she sees a fire in the museum and drops her large painting to run and later she watches transfixed as the "ghost" slowly pushes a sculpture off its table to shatter on the floor.

Millenium
"Maranatha"
A Russian icon restorer is murdered early in the episode which involves a conspiracy around Chernobyl.

Monk
"Mr. Monk and Little Monk"
Episode Premiere: August 26, 2005
Detective Monk brings a defaced painting to a museum restorer. Among other delights, the restorer carries out a condition examination in the middle of the public gallery.

Morse
British television program
"[episode title?]"

Middle aged artist who restores art in his dry periods while conducting an affair with a teenaged pupil and murdering.


Northern Exposure
"Nothing's Perfect", aired Oct 12, 1992

A retired American astronaut living in Alaska purchases an antique German timepiece at great expense. The piece arrives accompanied by a young German craftsman/restorer who assembles the components and starts the mechanism. The new owner is upset that it does not keep perfect time and tries to get the craftsman to "fix it". The craftsman packs up the clock saying that anyone who demands accuracy from a centuries old work of art does not deserve to own it. Eventually the astronaut comes to accept the clock as it is and the craftsman lets him keep it.


Numb3rs
"Dirty Bomb"
Aired: December 24, 2005 on CBS

Aronson Art Conservation in downtown Los Angeles is robbed of a number of valuable paintings when that part of the city is evacuated during a bomb scare.


"Provenance"
Aired: Oct 6. 2006

In this episode about a Pissarro with tainted provenance, a paintings conservator working alone at a small museum does authentication, cleaning, and exhibition catalog preparation. The story deals with theft, Nazi looting, forgery, and authentication. Using a catalog image, mathematician Charlie Eppes analyzes the painting surface, specifically craquelure and brush stroke morphology, the latter using the curvelet transform.

Television Commercials

"Crest White Strips"
Appeared July 2001
Version 1: An art restorer named Barbara works on a ceiling painting as a narrator voices the wonderful brightening powers of "Crest White Strips"
Version 2: An objects conservator polishes silver from a wrecked ship

Sidral Mundet presenta: Dando vida al arte
Mexico 2006
Mexican restorer Consuelo Chufani and her work are profiled (and cans of Sidral Mundet soft drink are shown on the side of her work table).

Brief Mentions

This section deals with works that, while not primarily about conservation or conservators, contain material that in one way or another provides information about the perception of the conservation profession in media or the public imagination

Homes, A.M.
"Brother on Sunday"
The New Yorker, March 2, 2009. (Short story)
Contains a description of one of the characters--a plastic surgeon:

"He thinks about Botox and Restylane and lasering spider veins and resurfacing a face and sometimes he feels like a conservator, like the guy he once sat next to at a dinner, who worked at the Met, touching up art works when they chipped or when the ceiling leaked on them".


[Search all CoOL documents]


URL: http://cool.conservation-us.org/byauth/rushfield/conservation-fiction/index.html
Timestamp: Monday, 07-Apr-2014 15:29:04 PDT
Retrieved: Wednesday, 16-Apr-2014 13:10:10 GMT