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TEFAF Museum Restoration Fund awards grants to the Worcester Art Museum and the Ashmolean Museum

Submitted by on January 5, 2013 – 10:04 am

The Worcester Art Museum in the United States and the Ashmolean Museum in the United Kingdom are to receive grants from the TEFAF Museum Restoration Fund to help them carry out important conservation projects. The Fund was set up by TEFAF Maastricht, as one of its 2012 Silver Jubilee initiatives and provides up to €50,000 each year to help institutions around the world conserve works of art in their collections. A panel of independent, international experts considered many applications from museums before selecting the two winning projects, which will each receive €25,000.


Portraits of William and Elizabeth James by William Hogarth, 1744, oil on canvas, in the collection of the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts will be restored with help from the TEFAF Museum Restoration Fund.

The Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts is to restore a pair of portraits by the 18th century British artist William Hogarth. The pendant portraits of William and Elizabeth James, painted by Hogarth in 1744, were acquired by the museum more than a century ago but have never been comprehensively treated or technically evaluated and will benefit greatly from a conservation project. The work will enable the Worcester Art Museum to feature them prominently in Hogarth and the English Character, an exhibition planned for 2016, and ultimately to return these cornerstone works to its permanent galleries. The restoration will allow those viewing them to experience the full impact of the paintings as exquisite works of art without any concerns about their condition. The newly conserved pictures will reveal more authentic palettes and broader tonal ranges that, when reunited with their newly conserved frames, will enable viewers to have the pleasing experience intended by Hogarth.

William Hogarth (1697-1764) was one of the masters of British painting. Although best known for his biting satires of society that were popularised in engravings, he was also a skilled portraitist. In these paintings he captured the confidence of William James, a country squire from the English county of Kent, and his wife Elizabeth, both proud of their fashionable London clothes.

The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford is to carry out a conservation project on two candelabra by the Italian artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778). The intricately carved candelabra are some of the finest examples of neo-classical sculpture in the United Kingdom. They form a key element of the collections displayed in the Ashmolean’s impressive Randolph Sculpture Gallery and are of international significance. They were purchased from Piranesi by Sir Roger Newdigate, who made two Grand Tours in 1739-40 and 1774-75. The candelabra were shipped in component form from Italy to Oxford with instructions for their re-assembly provided by Piranesi. The candelabra have become structurally unsound because the plaster bonding in the joints between each vertical section has failed during the 100 years since they were last restored. Until they were re-plinthed on pallets in 1991, these vulnerable objects were traditionally moved by masons dragging them across the floor, using winches, rather than lifting them. Although they are now mounted on pallets, disguised as plinths, moving them still puts them at risk as they comprise many loose components. For that reason the museum has developed this project to dismantle, conserve and structurally stabilize these remarkable objects. – www.tefaf.com

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