Help me Identify this Painting... Orson Welles as an old Sailor?
September 13, 2016 3:27 AM   Subscribe

I bought this painting around 6 years ago at an antique market in Kingston, ON. Can you help me identify it, and maybe offer suggestions for art conservation?

I picked up this lovely sailor (?) in Kingston:

Mystery painting

To me it looks like Orson Welles dressed as a Sailor. Does it look familiar to anyone?

Here is a close up of the signature. I'm totally at a loss:
Mystery signature on the mystery painting


I would also love to get the dents smoothed out. Is this an art conservator's job? What would it involve? Is it something I can DIY?

Also accepting: Names for the Sailor.

Thank you for your help!! :D

(My heart nearly melted when I saw him! only $40.00!)
posted by Dressed to Kill to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Looks a bit like this fellow.
posted by Jode at 5:11 AM on September 13, 2016


This work looks like an oil on canvas, done in a Rembrandt style, so it's probably linseed oil with a lot of earth pigments. Oil paintings yellow if not exposed to sunlight, so perhaps the layers of media and varnish are a bit yellow. Exposing the work to sunlight will encourage the layers to clarify a bit so you can see the detail of the portrait a bit better. The pigments look like earths which are lightfast; the signature looks like Vermilion which is also lightfast but made with mercury, fyi.

For removing the dents: I can't see the dents from the photograph. However, flexing the canvas will weaken the paint film and could cause cracks in the paint film surface. Provide a rigid back behind the canvas such a rag museum board to provide support for the paint film. A local frame shop should be able to cut a support to size for the reverse. Apply in gradual steps to allow the canvas to return to its original shape.

Clean the surface with a gentle natural hair brush. The frame is silk in the interior, and I see a spot on the silk that can be lightened with some q-tips/distilled water applied gradually to the surface. Remove as much dust as possible with a soft brush before cleaning all surfaces.

No idea on the signature or artist. Hope some of the information is helpful.
posted by effluvia at 5:45 AM on September 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


Can anyone make out the signature?

(thank you so far!)
posted by Dressed to Kill at 8:13 AM on September 13, 2016


Sometimes with a dented canvas, painting gesso onto the back of the canvas stretches the dents away as the gesso dries.
posted by vegartanipla at 10:44 AM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'd try some water on the back. Just enough to dampen the stretched area. Might be good to test a spot in a corner to make sure it won't have an adverse effect, but most likely if the canvas was prepared with a ground material (i.e. Gesso), it won't soak through. As the water evaporates the canvas fibers will shrink back toward their original tension. I have been a painter for a long time and use this technique frequently.
posted by ecorrocio at 12:28 PM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


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