SPRing 2010 friends lecture series

Conservation in Focus: The Art of Painting by Johannes Vermeer van Delft - Recent Technical Studies


Tuesday, 23 February 2010
17.30 - 18.30, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre

Rear view of 17c. artist painting a picture, wearing black and white ruched bodice and black cap
Johannes Vermeer, The Art of Painting, c. 1662 – 1668. Photo: © Courtesy Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Speaker(s): Elke Oberthaler (Head of Conservation, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna)
Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission
Organised by: Conservation of Wall Painting Department and Conservation & Technology Department (The Courtauld)

Ten years after the restoration of The Art of Painting by Johannes Vermeer van Delft, a full technical study of the picture is being undertaken, including a number of new non-invasive analytical techniques.

Since completion of the conservation treatment, the painting has been submitted to an intense loan programme; its condition, however, remains fragile, and deliberation on the reasons for this fragility has been ongoing. Wide consultation with international experts focussed on the composition of the binding media for the paint and led to the development of a new project reconsidering the results of previous analyses and re-examining the painting using up-to-date analytical methods, based on recent developments in the field. The results of the study will be discussed and the significance of the findings for the history, conservation and display of the work.

Elke Oberthaler has been a paintings conservator at the Kunsthistorische Museum, Vienna , since 1984 and Chief Conservator of the Paintings Collection at the Kunsthistorisches Museum since 1997. She completed her MA in Conservation at the University of Applied Arts in 1986 and also studied at the Paintings Conservation Department, Metropolitan Museum of Art, as Andrew W Mellon Fellow, 1990-92. She was Visiting Conservator at The Courtauld in 2006 and currently teaches at both the University of Applied Arts and the University of Fine Arts.


The Spring 2010 Friends Lecture Series is supported by the Friends of The Courtauld Institute of Art.

The many faces of conservation are presented in this series of lectures: from concerted efforts to preserve endangered authentic architectural polychromy in China, to interfacing with public perceptions of what is a mostly an invisible activity at the British Museum, to a spectacularly simple yet effective method for visualising remains of Egyptian blue on ancient art. Technical studies are a traditional strength of The Courtauld and three of the lectures will explore paintings methods, beginning with 17th-century Holland and recent analysis of paintings by Vermeer and Bol, then moving to 20th-century Italy and the Spatialist art of Fontana.



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