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Monday, May 16 • 11:30am - 12:00pm
(Paintings) The Resurrection of The Angel

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Conservation science is a powerful tool that can change and even sometimes reverse the way we experience a historical artwork. This was the case with a painted bas-relief at St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Barriefield, Ontario- a piece better known to its congregation as “The Angel”. Recent conservation efforts guided by research, rigorous methodology, and a strong sense of ethics have brought to light important and unexpected aspects of this artwork. These discoveries ultimately led to the successful conservation and revelation of The Angel’s glorious past.

The Angel mysteriously appeared on the north chancel wall of St. Mark’s sometime after 1897. This unique bas-relief is distinguished by its large-scale format- measuring 5 meters high by 4 meters wide. Its manufacturing technique consists of painted cast plaster and its singular iconography represents an angel and three cherubs. Though the relief bears no artist signatures or marks, literary evidence indicates that the piece was restored in 1951 by a famous Canadian painter, André Biéler (1896-1989). Biéler was an art professor at Queen’s University from 1936-1964 and was also the founding director of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (1957).

The artwork was analyzed with microscopy, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy using attenuated total reflectance (ATR-FTIR), and infrared and ultraviolet photography. Analysis confirmed the nature of the substrate, identified the binder used in the paint sub-layers, and most importantly, revealed the complete paint stratigraphy, which clearly indicated three distinct painting campaigns. Further solubility tests for overpaint removal confirmed the analytical results and revealed unexpected details.

Based on the analytical results, it was concluded that what was thought to have been painted by André Biéler had in fact been completely overpainted by the third and last restoration campaign. Before treatment, this outermost paint layer, which was very roughly executed, was all that was visible to the church and community members. Conservation of Sculptures, Monuments and Objects (CSMO), in collaboration with Mr. Patterson, Father Haynes, Mr. Du Prey, and many parishioners of St. Mark's Church, the conservation treatment successfully brought the artwork back to the second painting campaign, which is much closer to the original artistic intent.

avatar for Laurence Gagné

Laurence Gagné

Owner, Art Conservator, DL HERITAGE INC.
Laurence Gagné first discovered conservation while volunteering in an archaeological project taking place in southern France. Then, she pursued her interest volunteering at the Musée des Maîtres et Artisans du Québec, which is specialized in patrimonial and cultural objects, at... Read More →

avatar for Alexander Gabov

Alexander Gabov

Head Conservator/owner, Conservation of Sculptures, Monuments and Objects
Conservation of Sculptures, Monuments and Objects (CSMO) is a full-service conservation firm for the preservation, conservation and maintenance of sculptures, monuments, architectural elements, artifacts, and objects.
avatar for Emily Ricketts

Emily Ricketts

Conservator, Conservation of Sculptures, Monuments, and Objects
Emily Ricketts is a conservation professional working in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Since graduating from Queen's Univeristy with a Master of Art Conservation, specializing in objects, Emily has worked for the private conservation firm Conservation of Sculpture Monuments and Objects... Read More →

Monday May 16, 2016 11:30am - 12:00pm EDT
Room 710 A