Examination, Technical Analysis, and Treatment of His Works in the Charles Bregler Collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
MARK F. BOCKRATH, VIRGINIA N. NAUDÉ, & DEBBIE HESS NORRIS
In 1985, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts acquired Charles Bregler's Thomas Eakins Collection from Bregler's widow, Mary Bregler. The collection, including anatomical, perspective, and compositional drawings, photographs and negatives, sculpture, oil sketches, artists' materials, and other memorabilia, was the largest private holding of Eakins material. Charles Bregler (1864–1958) was a student of Thomas Eakins (1844–1916) who befriended Eakins's widow Susan Macdowell Eakins (1851–1938) late in life, helping her to identify, catalog, and preserve the numerous artworks, correspondence, and personal effects left in Eakins's studio after his death in 1916. Mrs. Eakins also entrusted the conservation of the collection to Bregler, and both Bregler and Mrs. Eakins made efforts to promote Eakins and to place his works in major collections. After the death of Susan Eakins in 1938, the remaining materials became the property of Bregler and then of his widow. Mary Bregler kept the material virtually inaccessible to scholars until it was acquired by the Pennsylvania Academy.
Following acquisition of the collection, the Pennsylvania Academy undertook a major project of researching, cataloging, and performing conservation treatments on the objects in the Bregler Collection in preparation for an exhibition entitled Thomas Eakins Rediscovered: At Home, at School, at Work, on view at the museum from September 26, 1991 to April 5, 1992. The following sections, by three separate authors, describe Eakins's techniques as revealed by scientific analysis of his paintings, relief sculptures, and photographs and the conservation treatments of these works.