JAIC 1999, Volume 38, Number 1, Article 4 (pp. 33 to 44)
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Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 1999, Volume 38, Number 1, Article 4 (pp. 33 to 44)

BIERSTADT'S LATE PAINTINGS: METHODS, MATERIALS, AND MADNESS

DARE MYERS HARTWELL


ABSTRACT—In his late paintings Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902) experimented with materials and techniques not found in the more technically orthodox paintings of his heyday. His choice of materials has sometimes had a deleterious effect on the appearance and condition of these paintings. Graphite paint, used as a ground layer, was by far the most unusual of these materials. It seems likely that Bierstadt decided to experiment with graphite as a protective coating for painting canvas because contemporary advertisements recommended it for weatherproofing and preserving exterior canvas coverings. His use of panel-back stretchers and a letter written by him indicate his concern for protecting the painting canvas. The surface texture of many of Bierstadt's late paintings also suggests that he may have experimented with paint media, including perhaps an oil and water emulsion. For surface coatings in this period, Bierstadt recommended poppy oil and a varnish of copal dissolved in turpentine.
[Spanish Abstract] [French Abstract]

Article Sections:

1. INTRODUCTION
2. GRAPHITE GROUNDS
3. PAINT MEDIA AND SURFACE COATINGS
4. CONCLUSIONS
1. APPENDIX
a: Appendix , Notes , References , Author Information
Entire Article

Copyright 1999 American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works