research forum visiting conservator seminar


New Painting/New Surfaces: Nineteenth-Century Matte Paints

Thursday, 19 April 2012

16.00 - 18.00, Research Forum South Room

group in a bar including man with in beige suit and black hat and woman in red coat, black feather boa and blue hat
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), Alfred la Guigne, 1894. Oil on cardboard. 65.6 x 50.4cm. Chester Dale Collection. 1963.10.220 (TMS 46695). Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.



Speaker(s): Ann Hoenigswald (Senior Conservator of Paintings, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Professor Aviva Burnstock

The attention given to matte surfaces on nineteenth century paintings revealed artists’ interest in modernity and although the decision to varnish or not played a role in producing such an effect, the selection and the manipulation of the paint media was equally as significant. Peinture à l’essence used by Henri de Toulouse Lautrec or peinture à la colle or distemper used by Edouard Vuillard are just two examples of paint which produced inherently matte surfaces. The choice of media reflected personal working styles and the effects – although both matte - were quite distinct from one another. These were not new materials, but the artists chose to manipulate their paint in unique ways to achieve a certain appearance. With the careful study of the paintings and taking direction from contemporary documentation and criticism, it is the conservator’s responsibility to understand as much as possible about the artist’s intent and tailor study and intervention to accommodate the desired effects.

Ann Hoenigswald is Senior Conservator of Paintings at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. She completed her undergraduate degree in art history and history at the University of Pennsylvania and received both a certificate in conservation from the Intermuseum Conservation Association as well as a MA in conservation from Oberlin College.

She has treated numerous paintings from the collection of the National Gallery of Art and is particularly interested in nineteenth century and early modern works. Much of her research has focused on artists’ materials and techniques and on artists who reveal the process of painting. Her research tends to be done in close collaboration with art historians and conservation scientists. Recent publications have included the “short hand” of oil sketches on paper and the equipment of the plein air painter; varnishes, surface appearance and the intent of the artist; Picasso studies; and the history of restoration. She is responsible for coordinating the conservation contributions to the National Gallery of Art’s forthcoming Systematic Catalogue of paintings from the second half of the nineteenth century and has worked with the web team at the Gallery to produce websites on Manet and Picasso.

She has been the recipient of the CASVA (Center for the Advanced Study in the Visual Arts) paired fellowship in Conservation and also was an invited Guest Scholar at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.



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