Otto van Veen's Discovered "Apollo and Venus" on Permanent Display at Hoyt Sherman Place
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Monday, January 7, 2019
Otto van Veen’s Discovered “Apollo and Venus”
on Permanent Display at Hoyt Sherman Place
Des Moines’ Earliest Old Master Painting
FLEMISH, ca. 1600
Height 49” x Width 37”
Oil on Wood
Hoyt Sherman Place
1501 Woodland Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309
January 24, 2019
Galleries open for Viewing at 5:00PM
Reception 6:30 PM – 7:00PM
Free and Open to the Public
Contact: Mr. Robert Warren: Executive Director, The Hoyt Sherman Place-- 515-244-0507 ext 1206-- firstname.lastname@example.org
“Hoyt Sherman Place completes its 8-year Art Restoration Program”
In 2012, the Hoyt Sherman Place Foundation established an “Adopt a Painting” conservation program to restore paintings acquired by the Des Moines Woman’s Club over the past 125 years. This program is now complete as the crown jewel has returned to its permanent home.
To date, 53 paintings from the collection have been conserved by Chicago painting conservator Barry Bauman including works by Thomas Moran, George Inness, and Edwin Lord Weeks. This ongoing, highly successful, undertaking has now culminated in the conservation of Des Moines’ earliest Old Master painting, Otto van Veen’s discovered “Apollo and Venus” (Flemish, ca. 1600, unsigned).
On February 12, 2016, Executive Director Robert Warren was looking for some Civil War flags and a staff member mentioned there was some collection material stored in a little-used storeroom under the auditorium’s second-floor balcony. For Hoyt Sherman Place, this was to become their “King Tut” moment. While looking for the boxes, Robert noticed a painting wedged between a table and the room’s plaster and lathe wall. (Image 1) Robert had just discovered a 400-year-old early Baroque panel painting. The Old Master painting had been “lost in the shuffle” for decades.
The scene depicts the figures of Apollo and Venus accompanied by her son Cupid. Venus, the Roman Goddess of Love, Beauty, and Fertility, is portrayed as an artist painting a landscape that includes a small image of Pegasus on the horizon. Apollo, holding a lyre, is the Roman God of Music, Poetry, and more. Cupid is the Roman God of Desire, Affection, and Erotic Love. The painting also contains four still-lifes referencing Venus’ beauty and fertility: a collection of jewelry, a basket of fruit and flowers, a sprig of roses, and a bowl of oysters. A fifth still-life of her painting supplies occupies the lower right corner.
The painting was coated with layers of discolored varnish and former restoration work that flattened the three-dimensional quality of the scene and falsified the artist’s intended palette. Areas of former loss were present along splits in the wood and throughout scattered areas especially pronounced in the left third of the painting. The surface was heavily overpainted after a succession of former restoration attempts. (Image 2: Before Treatment)
Four months of work were required to return the painting to its pristine visual appearance. The cleaning of a painting requires the use of organic solvents to swell and remove discolored films without injury to the paint surface. A background in chemistry is required for these procedures. This work is carried out under binocular magnification. The cleaning of the “Apollo and Venus” was a delicate process due to the painting’s overall instability and scale (H. 49 inches x W. 37 inches). The cleaning results were spectacular. (Images 3 and 4: During Cleaning)
Loose areas of paint were reset into place. Former losses were then filled and carefully retouched to match the original to both value and hue. A final non-yellowing varnish completed the treatment. (Image 5: After Treatment/In the Studio. Images 6 and 7: After Treatment Details)
Otto van Veen
Otto van Veen, also known by his Latin name Otto Venius or Octavius Vaenius, was born in Leiden around 1556. In 1574, he traveled to Rome for further study. Around 1580, he returned north. In 1592, van Veen settled in Antwerp. His presence there is verified from commissions he received for church altarpieces. He also oversaw a productive and vibrant studio with numerous students. His most famous pupil was Peter Paul Rubens who trained with van Veen from 1594 to 1600. He finally left Antwerp in 1615 and moved to Brussels, where he remained until his death in 1629.
Dr. Robert Baldwin will discuss his research on “Apollo & Venus”and the painting’s underlying themes to mark its permanent installation in the Hoyt Sherman Place Art Gallery. The program will take place on Thursday, January 24, 2019, at Hoyt Sherman Place at 6:00PM. A reception will follow the presentation. The program is free and open to the public.
Barry Bauman (Conservator of Apollo and Venus) holds a Master’s Degree in Art History from the University of Chicago and served as associate conservator of paintings for the Art Institute of Chicago. He founded the Chicago Conservation Center in 1983 as a resource facility for the conservation of fine art. In 2004, he sold the company and established Barry Bauman Conservation, offering pro bono conservation services to museums and non-profit organizations. To date, he has treated over 1,500 paintings at no charge for 300 institutions throughout the United States including 53 for Hoyt Sherman Place. Barry Bauman is an Elected Fellow of the American Institute for Conservation.
Dr. Robert Baldwin:
Dr. Robert Baldwin (Research Consultant) has a Ph.D in Northern Renaissance and Baroque Painting from Harvard University. Dr. Baldwin has written over 200 essays and articles on western art that can be accessed on his website, socialhistoryofart.com. He is currently Associate Professor of Art History at Connecticut College, New London, Connecticut.
Robert Warren was hired as the new Executive Director at Hoyt Sherman Place in early October 2015. Warren had previously served as the Executive Director of Hartford Performs in Hartford, CT. His decorated career has also included positions such as Director of Education and Community Engagement at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota FL, Associate Producer at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. and Executive Producer for Creative Vision Entertainment Inc. in Washington, D.C.
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