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Preserving a Giant: Treatment of a 19th-Century Photograph

Grizzly Giant with Troop F in Mariposa Big Tree Grove, California after treatmentHoward Clinton Tibbitts, Grizzly Giant with Troop F in Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Yosemite National Park, 1899. Gelatin silver print, 39 3/8 x 29 7/16 in. Gift of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company
Anisha Gupta, Graduate Intern in Paper Conservation

Wild West: Plains to the Pacific, now open at the Legion of Honor, includes a spectacularly large photograph from the Museums’ collection, taken by Howard Clinton Tibbitts (1863–1937). Tibbitts was a San Francisco–based photographer who documented the American West for the Southern Pacific Railroad’s magazine Sunset, still published today. This photograph from 1899 depicts members of the U.S. Cavalry’s Troop F, who were charged with the protection of Yosemite from 1883 until 1916.

July 21, 2016

Ironing out Wrinkles // Fixing Earthquake Faults

Local humidification to reduce planar deformations.

José Luis Lazarte, Graduate Intern in Painting Conservation

When Alan Sonfist’s (b. 1946) California Earthquake came to the Paintings Conservation department for treatment, my first thought was: This graphite drawing on canvas is more a drawing on a textile than it is a painting. As such, the artwork fell between conservation specialties, and its treatment required collaboration among the Paintings, Paper, and Textiles Conservation departments at the Museums.

June 15, 2016

Definitely Not Boring Brown: the Legion of Honor’s BVRB Writing Table

Catherine Coueignoux is an associate object conservator with an expertise in furniture conservation. In this post from the object conservation lab, she discusses a decorative technique known as marquetry used in the making of an 18th-century French writing table.
 

November 13, 2014

Decoding paper: Secrets of a Renaissance Print

Works on paper often have a long history and hide many clues that tell their story. Take a closer look and the artwork might reveal some of its secrets.

In the first in a series focusing on the hidden world of works on paper, FAMSF paper conservators take a look at Ugo da Carpi’s The Surprise, on view until October 5 in The Poetry of Parmigianino's "Schiava Turca" at the Legion of Honor.

July 24, 2014

A Conservation Triumph: 1994–2013

For the first time ever, three prized tapestries from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s permanent collection will be exhibited together in the Legion of Honor’s Gallery 1. The entire series, known as The Triumph of the Seven Virtues, consists of seven tapestries that depict allegorical representations of the theological virtues—Faith, Hope, and Charity—and the cardinal virtues—Temperance, Prudence, Justice, and Fortitude. While 10 museums in Europe, the United States, and Russia possess tapestries from this series, the Fine Arts Museums have The Triumph of Fortitude, The Triumph of Prudence, and the only extant example of The Triumph of Justice.

The monumental tapestry (and the only one of its kind) The Triumph of Justice

Triumph of Justice from The Triumph of the Seven Virtues Series, ca. 1535. Belgium, Brussels, Flemish. Wool, silk; tapestry weave. Gift of The William Randolph Hearst Foundation. 1957.125

August 29, 2013

Cracking the Conservation of a Curious Contemporary Construction

In 2004 artist Matthew Picton laid a sheet of plastic over the cracks in the asphalt of a playground. He traced the cracks and painted them with black enamel paint. Then he carefully cut and burned away the plastic surrounding the cracks. What was left was a giant spidery web.

A conservator installing the web-like construction by Mattew Picton

August 6, 2013

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