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GEORGES BRAQUE: THE TREATMENT OF A STAINED SURREALIST LITHOGRAPH

I recently completed the treatment of a lithograph by French artist Georges Braque, a contemporary of Matisse and Picasso.  The artwork itself is an object of absolute beauty.  The image depicts an abstract birdlike form flying amongst the stars.  Hence, its name:  “Les Etoiles,” which translates to “The Stars” in English.  The artwork had recently been purchased by my client, who was concerned about the reverse mat burn and foxing present in the piece.

Once I unfitted the lithograph from its frame, I found that the cardboard backing it was wrapped around had badly stained and discolored the artwork as the acids within the cardboard had migrated into the adjacent artwork over the years.  Just being separated from the acidic framing materials was a huge improvement for this lithograph.  There were also old masking tape repairs present which needed to be removed.

I first removed the masking tape repair and reduced the adhesive with organic solvents.  Then, the artwork was treated to an immersion bath in pH adjusted waters.  Staining and mat burn were reduced with bleaching agents, and the paper was deacidified.  

Once treated, the artwork was humidified, flattened and refitted into its frame with archival backing materials.  

Above, the lithograph after removal from its framing package.
The artwork had been wrapped around an acidic piece of board, which burned the paper.
During the course of the treatment, the lithograph was treated via immersion bath.
The lithograph after conservation treatment.
The artwork after refitting into its frame with new archival materials.

Surrealism is one of my favorite genres, and I feel a deep awe & appreciation for the quiet grace and beauty of this piece.  You can definitely see elements of Cubism and Surrealism combined in the imagery.

I’m honored to have had the opportunity to help breath some new life into this work of art.  It will be in great shape now to last for many more years to come.

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