Victor Westerholm: Cattle in a Birch Forest (1886), Conservation of the Picture Frame

Media preview on Thursday, 14 Dec 2010, 11 am, at Turku Art Museum, Aurakatu 26, Turku
Conservator Satu Rantala will be present on the occasion.

Conservator Satu Rantala will talk about the conservation of the frame of Victor Westerholm’s Cattle in a Birch Forest (1886) on Tuesday, 14 December 2010 at 11 am in the Turku Art Museum. The frame and the painting have belonged together for over a hundred years. The painting is an essential part of the collection of the Turku Art Museum, and the frame is also among the most valuable ones in it. The frame with its exceptionally grand ornamentation is a piece of hand-crafted art in itself. The Crème de la Crème exhibition is the first time the work is on display since its conservation.

Conservator Satu Rantala has carried out the conservation of the frame as her Bachelor’s thesis project at the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in Vantaa in spring 2010. According to Rantala, the picture frame is most likely original to the painting and was probably manufactured in Düsseldorf, Germany, when the painting was finished. The style of the frame follows a neo-style which blends classical ornamentation with a bold plant-and-fruit festoon on the leading edge. The plaster cast ornaments had been built on the wooden chassis by hand, with the matte and burnished finishes carefully designed to give a strong visual effect.
Prior to conservation, the plant-and-fruit festoon on the leading edge had become loose in many parts. Most of the gilded and burnished fruit ornaments were covered in bronze paint, which had oxidized to a dark brown color. The intended sequence of matte and burnished surfaces – matte gilding, matte metal leaf and burnished gilding – was obscured.

Therefore the main points of the treatment were cleaning, fixing loose ornaments, removing bronze paint from the burnished gilding, and retouching. The retouching of the originally gilded and burnished fruit ornaments was done by in-gilding only the damaged spots with pieces of loose gold leaf and a modern adhesive, which can be removed without harming the original gilding.

The objectives for the conservation were drawn from an analysis of the values of the frame. Use value, aesthetic value and research value were concluded to be the most important. As a result of the conservation treatment, the values of the frame were preserved or enhanced: research value is intact as the added materials can be differentiated from the original, the frame is safe to use and it has regained the effect of its most important ornamental element.

Additional information:
Christian Hoffmann, tel. +358 (0)2 2627 097,

Turun taidemuseo, Aurakatu 26, 20100 Turku, Puh. 02 2627 100. © 2018