Emily Pegues, curatorial assistant, department of sculpture and decorative arts, National Gallery of Art, and Dylan Smith, Robert H. Smith Research Conservator, department of object conservation, National Gallery of Art. Fatally injured in a hunting accident in 1482, the young Mary of Burgundy lingered on her deathbed long enough to dictate her will, specifying in it the desire to have a tomb erected suitable to her station as Duchess of Burgundy and the richest woman in late 15th-century Europe. Her tomb in Bruges drew on the skills of the best craftsmen in the Burgundian Netherlands to produce a marvel of northern Renaissance art in gilt brass, enamel, and stone. In this presentation held on February 12, 2018, as part of the Works in Progress series at the National Gallery of Art, Emily Pegues and Dylan Smith share their groundbreaking discoveries on the tomb. Using detailed visual examination and scientific analysis, a recent technical study of the tomb—the first ever undertaken—provides new insights into how this elaborate multimedia monument was created. When combined with documentary evidence, these findings shed light on the wider sculptural practices in northern Renaissance Europe.
- Diamonstein-Spielvogel Lecture Series
- Sydney J. Freedberg Lecture on Italian Art
- Elson Lecture Series
- A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts
- Wyeth Foundation for American Art Programs
- Conversations with Artists
- Collecting of African American Art
- Conversations with Collectors
- Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies (FAPE)
- Rajiv Vaidya Memorial Lecture
- Reflections on the Collection: The Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professors at the National Gallery of Art
- John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art
Bart Devolder, painting conservator and onsite coordinator, Ghent Altarpiece restoration team, Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA). The Ghent Altarpiece (1432) by Jan and Hubert van Eyck is one of the most iconic works of Western art as it embodies the birth of new skills and vision. Still housed in Saint Bavo Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium, the site for which it was created, The Ghent Altarpiece (or Mystic Lamb as it is sometimes referred to) has undergone conservation and restoration treatment overseen by the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA, Brussels) since 2012. No one expected this restoration to turn into a revelation: the real Van Eyck had been hidden beneath overpaint for centuries! In this lecture recorded on June 2, 2017, at the National Gallery of Art, Bart Devolder shares remarkable discoveries from the first phase of treatment, and previews findings from the ongoing second phase. This program is made possible by the Henry and Alice H. Greenwald Endowment Fund for Conservation.
Daphne Barbour, senior conservator, department of object conservation, National Gallery of Art; Jay Krueger, head of painting conservation, department of painting conservation, National Gallery of Art; Molly Donovan, associate curator of modern and contemporary art, National Gallery of Art; and Dylan Smith, Robert H. Smith Research Conservator, National Gallery of Art. FACTURE: Conservation · Science · Art History is a biennial journal published by the conservation division to celebrate the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Art. Named for "the manner in which things are made," FACTURE explores themes in the materiality and history of art, addressing all aspects of the discipline from conservation treatment and history to technical art history to fundamental scientific research. Volume 2: Art in Context presents great works of art in new contexts. Examining the art of two very different eras—the Italian Renaissance and the 20th century—the essays in this volume share a common approach. Essays start with meticulous material and analytical study of works of art, then place the findings in a broader historic context, providing new perspectives on well-known works. In this lecture held on March 13, 2016, to celebrate publication of the second volume, FACTURE contributors share their latest research on topics ranging from Riccio’s early 16th-century bronze relief The Entombment to 20th-century sculptor Auguste Rodin’s works cast during his lifetime, under his supervision, to Andy Warhol’s early choices of paint medium as he transitioned from work as a commercial artist to pop art.
Michelle Facini, paper conservator, National Gallery of Art. The Serial Impulse at Gemini G.E.L. showcases 17 serial projects created over the past five decades by many prominent artists in collaboration with the renowned Los Angeles print workshop and publisher Gemini G.E.L. The exhibition celebrates the 50th anniversary of Gemini, and is on view from October 4, 2015 to February 7, 2016. In this talk recorded on September 22, 2015, the conservation division invites you behind the scenes with paper conservator Michelle Facini for a glimpse into the fascinating world of art conservation and its role in this exhibition. Technically challenging and bold in scale, the majority of artworks selected for this exhibition are oversized, requiring many hours of coordination among staff members specializing in this type of collections care. Facini discusses the treatment of Michael Heizer’s Scrap Metal Drypoint #6 and the technical challenges of bathing a work of art on paper that is 7 feet long!
John Delaney, senior imaging scientist, scientific research department, National Gallery of Art; Yuriko Jackall, assistant curator, department of French paintings, National Gallery of Art; and Michael Swicklik, senior paintings conservator, National Gallery of Art. Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s Young Girl Reading (c. 1770) is one of the most beloved works at the National Gallery of Art for its rapid brushwork, bold use of color, and delightful subject matter. New research conducted at the Gallery has shed an entirely different light on this painting, revealing an original figure that is clearly related to a series of 18 so-called “fantasy figures” by Fragonard—rapidly painted, similarly colored compositions of identical dimensions. In this lecture, delivered on June 15, 2015, as part of the Works in Progress series, John Delaney, Yuriko Jackall, and Michael Swicklik share ongoing technical and art-historical research on Young Girl Reading and its associated works.
Kimberly Schenck, Head of Paper Conservation, National Gallery of Art. This first comprehensive exhibition to examine the history of metalpoint—the art of drawing with a metal stylus on a specially prepared ground—premiered at the National Gallery of Art from May 3 through July 26, 2015. With some 90 drawings from the Middle Ages to the present, Drawing in Silver and Gold: Leonardo to Jasper Johns featured works from the collections of the British Museum, the National Gallery of Art, and other major museums in the United States and Europe. In this lecture recorded on May 18, 2015, as a part of the Works in Progress series, exhibition conservator Kimberly Schenck explores the varied materials and techniques of metalpoint and offers a glimpse into why these drawings look the way they do. Although discussions of metalpoint often focus on the metal used in the drawing process, the characteristics of other components, such as the paper support and the ground or coating, also play important roles.
Shelley Sturman, senior conservator and head of the department of object conservation, National Gallery of Art. On the 100th anniversary of the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial dedication in Boston, artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ original plaster version of the bronze memorial was transferred to the National Gallery of Art for full conservation treatment. On long-term loan from the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire, the magisterial Shaw Memorial (1883-1900) was previously restored many times and no longer resembled the artist’s original intentions. In this lecture recorded on January 15, 2014, conservator Shelley Sturman reveals the long process of removing the nearly 12-by-18-foot relief sculpture from a concrete block wall, radiographing the sections, repairing cracks, analyzing the materials, preparing the appropriate decorative surface, realigning segments, and designing an appropriate mounting system for display in Washington; this treatment was performed by a team of conservators from Boston, the National Park Service, and the Gallery. Installation at the Gallery marks the ninth time that the Shaw Memorial has been dismantled and reassembled. An exhibition honoring the memorial and its inspiration on 20th- and 21st-century artists titled Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens' Shaw Memorial is on view through January 20, 2014.
Daphne Barbour, senior object conservator; Melanie Gifford, research conservator; Lisha Glinsman, conservation scientist; Alison Luchs, curator of early European sculpture; and Kimberly Schenck, head of paper conservation, National Gallery of Art. FACTURE: Conservation · Science · Art History is a new biennial journal from the National Gallery of Art that introduces the latest research on works in its permanent collection. Named for “the manner in which things are made,” the journal presents essays on conservation treatment, scientific research, and technical art history. This study undertaken at the Gallery focuses on artists' methods and materials—identifying the materials used by artists, understanding the ways in which different artists handled these materials, and discerning how to preserve the qualities the artists prized. In honor of the inaugural volume, this lecture recorded on January 12, 2014, focuses on Renaissance masterworks—painting, sculpture, textiles, and works on paper—in the Gallery's collection.
Sarah Greenough, senior curator and head of the department of photographs, National Gallery of Art; Nancy Anderson, curator and head of the department of American and British paintings, National Gallery of Art; Lindsay Harris, research associate, department of photographs, National Gallery of Art; Renée Ater, associate professor of art history and director of academic programs, University of Maryland, College Park. To celebrate the exhibition opening of Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens' Shaw Memorial on September 15, 2013, the curators and catalogue authors discuss the individual stories and photographic portraits of the soldiers in the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, as well as those of the men and women who recruited, nursed, taught, and guided them. On view through January 20, 2014, the exhibition considers the legacy of the 54th and the Battle of Fort Wagner in art, examining nineteenth century efforts to memorialize those who fought, including early works by African American artists Edward Bannister and Edmonia Lewis in addition to Saint-Gaudens’ development of the Shaw Memorial itself. The lecture concludes with the continuing inspiration that the 54th, its defining battle, and the Shaw Memorial have been for twentieth and twenty-first century artists as diverse as Richard Benson, Ed Hamilton, Lewis Hine, Carrie Mae Weems, and William Earle Williams.
Tom Learner, head of modern and contemporary art research, Getty Conservation Institute, in conversation with artist De Wain Valentine. The International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art—North America (INCCA—NA), working together with the National Gallery of Art and the Getty Conservation Institution, presented From Start to Finish: The Story of “Gray Column” on July 16, 2013, at the Gallery. This 30-minute documentary recounts the remarkable story behind the making of De Wain Valentine's Gray Column, a stunning large-scale polyester sculpture. The film follows the piece from its original concept to its display at the Getty Center for Valentine's exhibition during Pacific Standard Time, the 2011 Getty initiative to celebrate the birth of the Los Angeles art scene. Following the film, Tom Learner and De Wain Valentine discuss the creation of this monumental work of art and his thoughts on approaches to its conservation. This program is part of INCCA—NA’s Voice of the Artist series.
Franklin Kelly, chief curator and deputy director, National Gallery of Art, Lance Mayer and Gay Myers, independent conservators. Scholars from around the world gathered at the National Gallery of Art to discuss Samuel F. B. Morse's newly conserved Gallery of the Louvre, which is on view at the National Gallery of Art from June 25, 2011, through July 8, 2012. In a 2-day public symposium, held and recorded on April 20 and 21, 2012, academics, conservators, and curators examined the historical context of the work, its conservation treatment, and the techniques used. This program was coordinated with and supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Bryan Draper, Collections Conservator, University of Maryland Libraries; Norvell Jones, retired Chief of the Document Conservation Branch, National Archives; and Sheila Waters, calligrapher. Recalling the 45th anniversary of the catastrophic flood of Florence in 1966, the National Gallery of Art, in association with the University of Maryland Libraries presented a rare screening of Franco Zeffirelli's Florence: Days of Destruction (Per Firenze) on November 5, 2011. The famed Italian director's sole documentary is a heartfelt call to action containing the only known footage of the flood, accented by Richard Burton's voiceover commentary. The film is in the collection of the University of Maryland Libraries, College Park. Program speakers included Bryan Draper, Collections Conservator, University of Maryland Libraries; Norvell Jones, retired Chief of the Document Conservation Branch, National Archives; and Sheila Waters, calligrapher, who participated in the conservation efforts in post-flood Florence.
Daphne Barbour, senior conservator, department of object conservation, National Gallery of Art; Suzanne G. Lindsay, adjunct associate professor in the history of art, University of Pennsylvania; and Shelley Sturman, senior conservator and head of the department of object conservation, National Gallery of Art. This podcast, recorded on January 30, 2011, celebrates the publication of Edgar Degas Sculpture, The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue, which documents the Gallery's collection of the artist's lifetime sculptures—the largest of its kind in the world. Catalogue authors Daphne Barbour, Suzanne Lindsay, and Shelley Sturman present their contributions to the landmark publication, including essays on Degas' life and work, his sculptural technique and materials, and the story of the sculptures after his death. The technical analysis reveals that Degas usually built his own armatures from wires, wood, and metal pins, and formed the sculptures over them and fillers he had at hand: cork stoppers, paper, rope, rags, and even discarded objects such as the lid of a saltshaker.
Daphne Barbour, senior object conservator, and Shelley Sturman, head of object conservation, National Gallery of Art. The National Gallery of Art holds the greatest collection in the world of original wax sculptures created by Edgar Degas. Celebrating the publication of the Gallery's newest Systematic Catalogue, Edgar Degas Sculpture, Shelley Sturman and Daphne Barbour, two of the authors who are senior conservators, discuss their extensive research on the art, history, and techniques of the Gallery's unsurpassed collection of 52 works in wax, clay, and plaster, as well as a dozen posthumously cast bronzes.
Gretchen Hirschauer, associate curator, Italian and Spanish paintings, and Catherine Metzger, senior conservator of paintings, National Gallery of Art, Washington. Delights of the Spanish table are exquisitely depicted by Luis Meléndez-the greatest still-life painter of 18th-century Spain. In podcast produced on the occasion of the exhibition, Hirschauer talks to paintings conservator Catherine Metzger about their recent technical examination of Meléndez's paintings, including some new discoveries.
Gretchen Hirschauer, associate curator, Italian and Spanish paintings, National Gallery of Art, Washington. Delights of the Spanish table are exquisitely depicted by Luis Meléndez-the greatest still-life painter of 18th-century Spain. In this podcast produced on the occasion of the exhibition, Hirschauer talks to host Barbara Tempchin about Meléndez's skill for rendering everyday objects with convincing detail, marvelous effects of color and light, and subtle variations in texture.
Nicholas Penny, senior curator of sculpture and decorative arts, National Gallery of Art, and Dylan Smith, Robert H. Smith Research Conservator, National Gallery of Art. Robert H. Smith has amassed one of the most important private collections of Renaissance sculptures in the world. The Smith collection includes bronzes by masters such as Antico, Giovanni Bologna, and Antonio Susini, as well as eye-catching works in ivory and boxwood. Nicholas Penny-in his last podcast as National Gallery of Art curator of sculpture and decorative arts before he assumes directorship of the National Gallery, London-talks to Robert H. Smith Research Conservator Dylan Smith about these beautiful works of art, their composition, and how they were made.