Conservation

This full-length painting shows a standing female figure draped in a sheer robe that covers her from neck to ankle. In front of her feet is a checkered rug, on top of which lies a yellow flower. In the background is a cascade of white blossoms and a patterned curtain. The painting is surrounded by a gold frame with linear running-bead ornamentation.

Reframing Albert Moore’s Study for “Blossoms”: Historical Design, Contemporary Production

Read how a curatorial fellow and frame conservator teamed up to create a historically accurate reproduction of an unusual 19th-century frame.

By Allison Jackson, Sophie Lynford

Two side-by-side images each show a sculpture of a falcon wearing a crown. The sculpture is atop a small platform. The images face each other. The image at left is a black and white X-radiograph, which reveals internal elements of the sculpture. The image at right is a color photograph and shows the sculpture as brownish-green set against a neutral gray ground.

Introducing the Art + Science Pathway

Stories about what’s hidden within a selection of works—discovered through technical analysis—are now highlighted in the galleries.

By Sophie Lynford, Kate Smith

This print shows a woman holding a child and seated on a chair in a living room with her family gathered around her.

Multi-layered: Louis Delsarte’s Color Separations

A conservation scientist and paper conservator explain how Louis Delsarte made his photolithograph Unity using color separations.

By Christina Taylor, Georgina Rayner

A woman with long hair and glasses is leaning over a light table in a laboratory to examine a sheet of paper.

Understanding Paper: Structures, Watermarks, and a Conservator’s Passion

Paper conservation fellow Leonie Müller guides readers in an examination of paper’s material qualities and explains how its structures reflect the process of how it’s made.

By Leonie Müller

There are two images side by side of a dark brown vessel with two curved handles. In the image on the left, the vessel has light surface crusts, dark patches, and no base. In the image on the right, the vessel’s surface is shiny and dark brown and black, with a base of the same color.

Finding Its Footing: The Puzzles of an Ancient Amphora

In their collaborative effort to reconstruct the base of an ancient vessel, a conservator and a curator make unexpected discoveries.

By Haddon Dine, Susanne Ebbinghaus

Art Talk: What Can We Learn from an Ancient Silver Fragment?

A modern reconstruction of a fragmentary ancient object reveals details about its original appearance and its highly skilled manufacture.

This photograph shows a piece of aluminum foil with a black square on it. The foil is inside a block of glass with a pedestal.

Something You Can’t See

Charlene Briggs, receptionist in the Art Study Center, delves into the story behind one of the most famous materials in the Forbes Pigment Collection.

By Charlene Briggs

Two people, whose backs are to us, are in front of a large-scale abstract painting. The person on the left is standing and is applying a long cotton swab to the painting. The person on the right is wearing a visor and sitting on a stool. The painting consists of interlocking ribbed curves in shades of green against a lighter green background, punctuated with smaller red shapes.

Art Talk: Lifting the Veil from Herbert Bayer’s Verdure

In celebration of the Bauhaus centennial, one of the largest paintings in the Harvard Art Museums collections was cleaned and restored while being studied alongside preparatory works in the collections.

On the left, a blue photographic image shows a raised subway platform under construction. On the right, an image shows a woman holding a blue square cyanotype print featuring a collage of photographic negatives of people.

Art Talk: Cyanotypes—Art and Science at Home

Conservation scientist Julie Wertz talks about the science and process of cyanotypes, also demonstrating how to make one at home.

In this drawing on light brown paper, a slender man sits atop a horse, his back turned to the viewer. The horse is indicated by only a few black strokes that define its torso and saddle. The man holds the reins and firmly plants a foot in a stirrup. A few highlights of white dot his shirt and pants, and his sleeves are colored bluish black. His grey face is seen in profile, as he looks to the right. He wears a visor cap that shades his eyes. In the lower left side, the artist’s signature, “Degas,” appears in a red stamp.

Homecoming for a Degas Drawing

Paper conservator Anne Driesse discusses the treatment of a long-lost Degas drawing that only recently returned to the museums.

By Anne Driesse