The LDS Church Historical Department head shows up one day at my lab. I thought it was for a social visit but he was more than a little uncharacteristically giddy. He had in tow a rather large package. “We just can’t believe our good fortune. Look what someone had stashed in their garage hidden behind the bikes etc.” With that said, he unpacks and reveals a large gorgeous painting by Minerva Teichert of Christ blessing the children in front of the Bountiful Temple in the New World as recounted and documented in the Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 17:21. “The people who owned it didn’t even know who Minerva was and didn’t like the style of the painting. We just got it donated to us and nobody has seen it yet.”
In my painting storage area I have another large beautiful painting, done in 1858 of Richmond, Yorkshire, England that was stored in the garage behind bikes and surfboards. It had 16 holes and a 3″ x 10″ piece of the painting ripped out of the center (but it had fallen behind the painting and was lodged in the wooden bars. So we were able to save the pieces and replace them back into position).Fortunately, this catastrophe had not happened to this painting! There were water drip stains down the left side from top to bottom and the white paint on the figure of Christ was badly cracked and at risk of flaking. Perhaps, though, most disturbing to the original design/composition was that all four edges of the painting’s composition had been wrapped around the stretcher bars thereby eliminating important detail and crowding the composition. Compare the image above with the image below.
During conservation treatments, the overall dimensions of the painting were enlarged more than 1 inch on each side. The flaking was consolidated, relaxed and the painting was lined. The cleaning removed discolored varnish and a substantial layer of grime, which also removed the water stains. One of the problems afflicting the colors was a whitening of the surface or blanching of the paint, probably from exposure to water. This made the painting to appear faded. After cleaning did not remove the blanching, the whitened paint layers were regenerated with specific solvents and the color was reformed and returned to its original brightness, contrast and depth of field. New varnish, which will not yellow in the future, was applied by brush and by spraying.
Now, the Historical Department will talk about framing. And its exciting to think that the temple committee is thinking of having it reproduced for distribution to LDS temples. But, shhhhh! That’s a secret.
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