Restoring the Portrait of Inez Milholland Boissevain at the Sewall-Belmont House
Amount raised as of July 14, the 97th anniversary of the marriage of Inez Milholland and Eugen Boissevain - $3,800. Only $200 left to raise.
Thanks to Jane Barker, Al Boissevain, Annie Boissevain, Jane Boissevain, Frederick Boissevain, Boissevain Books, Tom de Booij, Eleanor Clift, Bob Drago, Elsie Gutchess, Anne Hale Johnson, Alice and John Tepper Marlin, Brigid Marlin, Barbara Page, Marlene Rehkamp, Calvin Tomkins II, who together contributed $3,800 as of July 14. Still to raise: $200.
Under the leadership of Al Boissevain, a Committee has formed to raise funds to restore the iconic portrait (see left) of Inez Milholland Boissevain over the mantelpiece on the main floor of the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum. The Committee's goal is to raise the $4,000 that an art restoration company has estimated it will require to restore the nearly 100-year-old painting, in time for the 90th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment on August 26, 2010. Gifts to the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum are tax-deductible to U.S. donors since it is a 501-c-3 tax-exempt charity. You may send a check directly to the Sewall-Belmont House, c/o Page Harrington, Sewall-Belmont House, 144 Constitution Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002-5608. Please note on the check: "Gift to Inez Portrait Restoration Fund." For updates, go to the campaign page here. Committee (in formation for a few more days) Jane Barker, Chair of the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Committee.
Al Boissevain, Chair, Nephew of Inez Milholland and Eugen Boissevain - and believed to be the sole surviving grandchild of Charles Boissevain and Emily MacDonnell Boissevain. He resides near his daughter in Bloomington, IN.
Annie Boissevain, Great-Niece of Eugen Boissevain and Manager of Big Shot Communications, Portland, ME.
Ben Boissevain, 2nd Cousin of Eugen Boissevain and Managing Partner, Agile Equity, New York, NY Claire Boissevain, RN, Great-Niece of Eugen Boissevain, Bloomington, IN Jan Willem Boissevain, Manager, the multilingual Boissevain Foundation in the Netherlands
Eleanor Clift, Author, Founding Sisters and the Nineteenth Amendment (Wiley 2003), Washington, DC.
Robert Drago, Research Director, International Women's Policy Research, Washington, DC.
Linda Cunningham Goldstein, Former Executive Director of the Woodlawn Plantation and Frank Lloyd Wright's Pope-Leighey House in Mount Vernon, Virginia and Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Interpretation and Design Committee. Phyllis Eckhaus, author of article on Inez Milholland's acceptance by the Harvard Law School faculty in 1909 and her rejection by the HLS Administration, in Harvard Magazine (November-December 1994), New York, NY Riva Freifeld, Producer, PBS Feature Documentary, "Annie Oakley", New York, NY Elsie Gutchess, Board Member-elect of the League of Women Voters, Dryden, NY Page Harrington, Executive Director, Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, Washington, DC Linda Lumsden, Prof. of Journalism, Univ. of Arizona, and Author of Inez: The Life and Times of Inez Milholland, Tucson, AZ Brigid Marlin, Great-Niece of Eugen Boissevain and Chair, Society for Art of Imagination, Berkhamsted, Herts., UK Alice Tepper Marlin, President, Social Accountability International, New York, NY. Spoke the lines of Californian Maud Younger eulogizing Inez MIlholland, in the 1998 staged reading in Rochester, NY of "Take Up the Song". John Tepper Marlin, Great-Nephew of Eugen Boissevain and Author of "Take Up the Song", New York, NY and Washington, DC
Olivia Milholland, Niece (!) of Inez Milholland (married to the son of Inez Milholland's brother John), now living in the Barnstable area, MA
Lindsay Pontius, Museum Educator, Adirondack History Center Museu , Essex County Historical Society, Elizabethtown, NY, and Director in 2000 of a staged reading of "Take Up the Song," featuring Inez Milholland and other suffragists, in the church at Lewis, NY, where Inez Milholland is buried (she was born in Brooklyn). (Inez's widower Eugen is buried in Austerlitz, NY next to his second wife, Edna St. Vincent Millay.)
Amy Jan Simon, Actress, President, She's History, Los Angeles, CA Calvin Tomkins, Childhood Neighbor and Friend of the Milhollands and Staff Writer (since 1960) for The New Yorker, New York, NY
Restor- ation Plan from Artex Conserv- ation Laboratory
This painting was examined in the ARTEX Conservation Laboratory in Landover, Maryland in February
2007.A condition report and treatment proposal were submitted to the client on March 15, 2007. ARTEX
was contacted on January 19, 2010 in order to initiate treatment of this painting. The original Conservation
Condition Report was revised slightly as presented below.
A poster (approximately 11" x 9" in size), was produced and circulated by the National Women's Party
after Inez Milholland Boissevain's death in 1916. The design of this poster was probably based on the
painting belonging to the Sewall Belmont House & Museum (ACL 07-006). Inez is mounted on a
white horse and carries a white banner that reads: FORWARDINTO LIGHT. She carried this banner
when she led the Suffrage procession in Washington, DC on March 3, 1913. The phrase depicted on
the banner became the Women's Party official motto, and the tricolors, purple, white and gold, as
depicted in the painting, are the party's colors.
Summary of Condition:The painting shows evidence of past mounting techniques and past
restoration campaigns. Original paint layers are covered by layers of grime and other coating
materials that are uneven and disfigure the image. Overpaint on the banner is actively flaking.
There are old flaked losses in the bronze paint along the bottom, some of which have been
overpainted and some of which are more recent and actively flaking.
Materials, Construction, and Condition
Original support: The painting has been executed on a paperboard support. The support
is slightly warped, most noticeably along the left side where the board bows outward.
The support is very acidic and degraded. There is a small loss to the support in the
bottom right corner which can be seen with the
painting is in its frame. The old tack
holes along the outer left and right edges are evidence of past mounting techniques
and possibly evidence of past history of use. There are several dents in the support
and paint layers located on the horse's neck, the woman's stomach, and proper left
hand, and in the purple background at left by the horse's tail. On the verso, there are associated lines and numbers, drawn with pencil, which seem to be perspective studies. The number 2235 is drawn in pencil and circled on the top right of the verso. The verso exhibits dents, scratches, gouges, stains and unidentified residues. Small black circular marks on the bottom of the verso possibly could be old stains from mold. The support is held into the frame with numerous rusted nails.
Ground layers:What looks to be a white preparation layer can be seen in a flaked
loss under the bronze paint at bottom. However, no preparation layer can be discerned
Paint layers:The oil paint is rich and has been applied varyingly fluid or paste-like
with areas of low impasto. The figure's face exhibits a fine craquelure. Next to where
the pole of the banner rests by the figure's leg, there appears to be a pentimento of
another position for the pole. There is a localized cluster of small holes in the paint
film on the horse's proper right front shoulder under the decorative strap on the horse.
The purple paint of the background has a slight pebbly appearance when viewed in raking
light. Glimpses of the original bright and translucent purple paint of the background can
be seen among tiny circular splatters of thin opaque overpaint and opaque areas of varnish.
The bronze paint around the outer edges appears to be a later paint campaign. Traces of
another brighter and more orange bronze layer can be seen around some of the letters.
A 3/8" x 3/16" loss to paint layers (located 23" from the left and 5" from the bottom)
reveals an even earlier and lighter gold colored layer that may be gilding. The latest
layer of bronze paint has been applied somewhat unevenly, most noticeable at top
right and bottom left.
Overpaint has been liberally applied around the letters on the banner. The overpaint
appears old and it may have been applied to cover past losses or to refine or change
the lettering. This overpaint is darkened, cracked, and flaking. Paint layers underneath
the flaking overpaint appear dirty, indicating some time passed before the overpaint
was applied. What appear to be early flaked losses on the gold border directly under
the horse's feet have been overpainted with a dark bronze paint that appears greenish,
possibly due to oxidation. This overpainting campaign extends to the tops of the
letters "E,D, and F" of the words "DIED FOR". The dark greenish bronze overpaint
is also seen along the right edge around the tack holes. Traces of shell gold, most
likely from the artist's studio, can be seen throughout the surface with the aid of a
microscope. There is a dent in the support with associated paint loss to the left of
the horse's tail in the background. There are more paint losses located under the
horse's stomach, in the bottom of the woman's cape, and to the left of the top of the
banner pole. Paint surrounding the larger loss in the bronze paint, as noted above,
is slightly lifting. There are deep dents in the support with resulting paint cracking
but no loss located in the horse's neck, the woman's stomach and proper left hand.
Varnish layers:There is a thin varnish layer on the painting that is discolored
and has reticulated to form islands. The varnish fluoresces a greenish color with
ultraviolet-excited visible light, suggesting the type is an aged natural resin. The
application of the varnish stops short of the artist's signature, to the left of the horse's
proper right rear hoof. It appears that the varnish was thinned and/or selectively
cleaned in a past cleaning campaign, as areas of the figure and the horse have more
varnish than others, or none at all. Examination with ultraviolet-excited visible
light reveals that the surface of the painting is covered with small circular spots
that appear black in UV. These spots are not currently visible in normal light
(perhaps because they underneath another layer). These spots may be mold, and
may complicate the cleaning of the painting and compromise its final appearance.
The painting exhibits dark areas when examined with ultraviolet-excited visible
light that may be past retouching campaigns. These areas were found on the horse's
face, under his cheek in the purple background, and along his mane. The area of
possible pentimento mentioned above in the figure also appears darker in ultraviolet-
excited visible light.
Surface grime:The painting is unevenly covered with a dark black layer of
unidentified nature. This layer is sensitive to water based solutions but is highly
tenacious. It is heaviest and most noticeable in the recesses of the brush strokes
of the horse and figure, and in the white letters. Presence of the black layer slightly
diminishes the fluorescence of the underlying varnish layer. Several small white
splatters are located along the left edge of the purple background.
As the Sewall Belmont House & Museum decided not to proceed with the
proposed conservation treatment in 2007, the small cleaning tests areas were
inpainted using reversible watercolors before the painting was returned. (Please
see test locations in accompanying photographs)
Frame and framing:The frame has been gilding directly on the wood members,
allowing the grain of the oak members to show. The frame's members are wide
and very slightly beveled. A label on the back of the frame reads: ifa galleries/
Backing:There is currently no backing on the painting.
REVISED CONSERVATION TREATMENT PROPOSAL
Without further examination of this painting, the following conservation treatment is recommended:<!--[if !supportLists]-->1.<!--[endif]-->Examination and documentation.<!--[if !supportLists]-->2.<!--[endif]-->Solubility testing to determine appropriate materials and methods to be used.<!--[if !supportLists]-->3.<!--[endif]-->Consolidation of loose paint around flaked losses.<!--[if !supportLists]-->4.<!--[endif]-->Removal of surface grime from the painting and frame.<!--[if !supportLists]-->5.<!--[endif]-->Reduction of the discolored varnish layer, as possible.<!--[if !supportLists]-->6.Removal of past discolored overpaint, if possible to do so evenly and safely. <!--[if !supportLists]-->7.<!--[endif]-->Re-varnishing of the painting with an appropriate resin coating.<!--[if !supportLists]-->8.<!--[endif]-->Infilling of minor paint and ground losses, as required.<!--[if !supportLists]-->9.<!--[endif]-->Inpainting of minor losses with stable and reversible materials. <!--[if !supportLists]-->10.<!--[endif]-->Providing of a protective backing and secure attaching plates to hold the painting in its frame.<!--[if !supportLists]-->11.<!--[endif]-->Installation of D-ring hardware at the frame verso to hang the painting more securely and to give the frame more support.
Estimated total cost for this conservation treatment, including materials, is $3,500 to $3,750.
Examined by Pamela Betts, ARTEX Conservation Laboratory in February of 2007.Revised by:Date:January 22, 2010 Barbara A. Ramsay Director of Conservation ServicesARTEX Fine Art Services