JAIC 2004, Volume 43, Number 3, Article 3 (pp. 237 to 254)
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Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 2004, Volume 43, Number 3, Article 3 (pp. 237 to 254)




1. American painters may have been following the lead of the French in some of these experiments with wax. A New York newspaper reported in 1891, “The members of the French Society of Artists are pondering upon a proposed abandonment of oil colors and brushes in favor of some more permanent mediums,” and that a committee was investigating encaustic among other techniques (quoted in Abendschein [1906]1909, 2; see also Rice 1999 on wax painting in 19th-century France and on the use of wax by the American John La Farge [1836–1910] beginning in the 1860s).

2. For example, John Neagle wrote ca. 1839: “Perhaps two or three very thin coats of varnish may prove safer than one thick one” (Neagle 1839 and later, 3; the entry is from the very beginning of the book and probably dates from very close to 1839). An American Artist [Osborn] (1845 [and later editions up to 1883], 286) said:“Put the couch on thin; for you can always add another lay, when the first is thoroughly dry.” And Rembrandt Peale (xxx–xxxx) wrote:“It is best to give a picture two coats of [varnish], letting the first be well dry—rather than one thick one” (Peale ca. 1849–52, 95).


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An American Artist [L.Osborn]. 1845Handbook of young artists and amateurs in oilpainting. New York: John Wiley & Son.

Bell, R.1914. Art-talks with Ranger. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.

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Boyle, R.2002. The American tempera revival in context. In Milk and eggs: The American revival of tempera painting, 1930–1950. Chadds Ford, Pa.: Brandywine River Museum, in association with the Washington University Press, Seattle and London.

Callen, A.1994. The unvarnished truth: Mattness, “primitivism” and modernity in French painting, c. 1870–1907. Burlington Magazine136 (November 1994):738–46.

Callen, A.2000. The art of Impressionism: Painting technique and the making of modernity. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Carlyle, L.2001. The artists' assistant: Oil painting instruction manuals and handbooks in Britain, 1800–1900, with reference to selected eighteenth-century sources. London: Archetype Books.

Chambers, Bruce. 2002. Letter to authors, May 12, 2002.

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Dewing, M. O. n.d. Letter to Mr. Milch, Milch Galleries, New York, Christmas Day [no year given]. Archives of American Art, Milch Galleries Papers, roll 4416, frame 896.

Fischer, M.1930. The permanent palette. Mountain Lake Park, Md., and New York: National Publishing Society.

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Hobbs, S.1996b. Letter to authors, November 14, 1996.

Hunt, W. M.1875 and 1898. W. M. Hunt's Talks on Art, comp. H. M. Knowlton. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin.

Jirat-Wasiutynski, V., and T.Newton. 1998. Absorbent grounds and the matt aesthetic in Post-Impressionist painting. In Painting techniques: History, materials and studio practice—Contributions to the Dublin Congress 7–11 September 1998, ed. A.Roy and P.Smith. London: International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. 235–39.

Katlan, A.1992. American artists' materials, vol. 2.Madison, Conn.: Soundview Press.

Mayer, L.1998. Historic varnishes. In Painting conservation catalog. Vol. 1, Varnishes and surface coatings. Washington, D.C.: American Institute for Conservation. 21–34.

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Mayer, L., and G.Myers. 1999. “The colour-charm of the tone-picture”: Ranger, glazes and Tonalist technique. In J. Becker, HenryWard Ranger and the humanized landscape. Old Lyme, Conn.: Florence Griswold Museum. 35–43.

Mayer, L., and G.Myers. 2002. Old Master recipes in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s: Curry, Marsh, Doerner, and Maroger. Journal of the American Institute for Conservation41(1):21–42.

McLaughlin, M. L.1888. Painting in oil: A manual for the use of students. Cincinnati: Robert Clarke.

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Neagle, J.1839 and later. Common place book. Manuscript. Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

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Peale, R. ca. 1849–52. Notes of the painting room. Manuscript. Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Rice, D.1999. Encaustic painting revivals: A history of discord and discovery. In G. Stavitsky, Waxing poetic: Encaustic art in America. Montclair, N.J.: Mont-clair Art Museum. 5–15.

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[Society of American Artists]. 1896. Eighteenth annual exhibition of the Society of American Artists. New York: Knickerbocker Press.

Sully, T.1809–71. Hints for Pictures. Manuscript. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. A typed transcript is on microfilm at the Archives of American Art, New York Public Library Papers, roll 18.

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[Trumble, A.]. 1893. Impressionism and impressions. The Collector4(14) (May 15):1–2. The article is unsigned, but is most likely attributable to the editor, Alfred Trumble, whose name appears on the journal's masthead.

Trumbull, J.1817a. Letter to Mr. Brown, Colourman, Holborn [London], March 31. Connecticut Historical Society, Trumbull Papers, microfilm roll 1, frame 286.

Trumbull, J.1817b. Letter to Isaac McCauly, near Philadelphia, March 31. New-York Historical Society, New York.

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The authors would like to thank Edward Shein of American Art Search, Thomas Barwick, John Driscoll of Babcock Galleries, John Hagan, and Frederick W. Lapham III. We would also like to thank Jack Becker, formerly of the Florence Griswold Museum and now at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum of Art, Thomas J. Branchick of the Williamstown Art Conservation Center, Bruce Chambers, Susan Hobbs, Barbara J. MacAdam of the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, and Dorothy Mahon of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


LANCE MAYER and GAY MYERS are both graduates of the conservation training program at the Intermuseum Laboratory in Oberlin, Ohio. Since 1981 they have been in New London, Connecticut, where they spend the majority of their time working as independent conservators for many large and small museums as well as private collectors. In 1999 they were awarded a Winterthur Advanced Research Fellowship to study American painters' techniques. In 2003 they were guest scholars at the Getty Research Institute. Address: Lyman Allyn Art Museum, 625 Williams St., New London, Conn. 06320

Copyright 2004 American Institution for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works