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

AMERICAN IMPRESSIONISM, MATTENESS, AND VARNISHING

LANCE MAYER, & GAY MYERS


ABSTRACT—Evidence from written sources—and in some cases from the study and treatment of paintings—indicates that some American Impressionists varnished their paintings, while others preferred matte and/or unvarnished surfaces. It can be difficult to determine a particular painter's varnishing preferences with certainty, but specific information can be found about a number of painters, including Childe Hassam, William Merritt Chase, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, John H. Twachtman, Willard Leroy Metcalf, and Theodore Robinson. Topics discussed include the advent of the unvarnished aesthetic in America, varnishing thinly, absorbent grounds, adding media, and unusual media. The ways in which conservators may need to evaluate and interpret the often limited evidence about varnishing preference are discussed in some detail. Also discussed are the consequences of removing varnish and allowing a painting to remain unvarnished. These choices can change the saturation of differently colored areas and alter the relative values of the colors, which can sometimes improve the appearance of a painting to a noticeable degree.
[Spanish Abstract] [French Abstract]

Article Sections:

1. INTRODUCTION
2. MATTENESS AND UNVARNISHED PAINTINGS
3. VARNISHING THINLY
4. VARIATIONS IN GLOSS AND SATURATION ON UNVARNISHED PAINTINGS
5. INTERPRETING THE EVIDENCE OF VARNISHED AND UNVARNISHED PAINTINGS
6. VARNISHING PRACTICES OF THE FIRST GENERATION OF AMERICAN IMPRESSIONISTS
7. CONCLUSIONS
a: Notes , References , Author Information
Entire Article

Copyright 2004 American Institution for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works