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Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Kenyon Cox at the Art Academy

by Conservation


behind the scenes , conservation , Kenyon Cox , paper conservation

Museum visitors are familiar with paintings and sculptures by many of the artists featured in the Art Academy at 150: A Celebration in Drawings and Prints exhibition currently on view in the Schiff Gallery because they are on permanent display.  The exhibition provides an opportunity to see works on paper by these artist that because of their light sensitivity spend most of the time in storage.

One of the artists in Kenyon Cox, who was both a student and a teacher at the Art Academy of Cincinnati.  His drawing Satyr and Two Children from 1876 passed through the Paper Lab on its way to the exhibition.  Visitors may not immediately connect it to his painting in Gallery 216, The Approach of Love, a highly finished oil painting from 1890-1893.  The drawing is a design, perhaps for a wood carving, that was given to the museum by William H. Fry in 1903 with two related drawings.  Creases in the drawing were dark with embedded grime, and the paper had a thick layer of grime across the surface.  Grime could be only partially reduced, because our paper conservator had to avoid removing any of the graphite pencil lines.  Someone in the past had begun to remove an acidic cardboard backing, which left the bottom vulnerable to damage.  The remaining cardboard was thinned with a scalpel to remove the acidic wood pulp, leaving the white facing paper attached for the support it provides to the drawing paper.  Another drawing is partially visible beneath the white paper at the bottom of the drawing. 


Images: Kenyon Cox, Satyr and Two Children, 1876, graphite pencil on paper, Gift of William H. Fry, 1903.84


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