New Minerva Teichert Masterpiece Discovered In A Garage Behind Bikes

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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.”

Minerva Teichert's Christ Blessing the Children

Christ Blessing The Children At The Bountiful Temple Before Conservation

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.

After recuperating the edges, more details were visible.

Compare top edge of photos: Notice architecture and details of plants

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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About Scott Haskins

Scott M. Haskins has been in the field of professional art conservation since 1975. He studied and worked doing mural and painting conservation in Italy until 1979. He headed up the painting conservation laboratory at Brigham Young University for the BYU Permanent Art Collection and the LDS HIstorical Department until 1984. He works from Santa Barbara, CA providing art conservation services nationwide. He is also the author of "How To Save Your Stuff From A Disaster."
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3 Responses to New Minerva Teichert Masterpiece Discovered In A Garage Behind Bikes

  1. Stan Bailey says:

    Great story! I also like the news on restoring the art in St George and Manti. I am interested in any art that survives by George Ottinger. I have read that he painted for the St George, Manti, and Logan temples. Do you have any information on these?

    • Scott Haskins says:

      I don’t, Stan, but stay connected with this blog and I’ll see what I can find. BTW, in two weeks we go to St. George to do some work on the mural.

    • Scott Haskins says:

      Stan, I’m not ware that Ottinger did artwork in any temples. For instance, in Manti the murals are done by CCA, R. Shepherd and M. Teichert.

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