The last couple of weeks has seen some quite astonishing conservation of aspects of the collection

Posted by Admin on 3 Dec 2010, midnight


The last couple of weeks has seen some quite astonishing conservation of aspects of the collection. Physical Energy has been lovingly restored by Patricia Jackson and her team of conservators. The first part of the work had already been completed with the cleaning of the surface of the sculpture. This revealed the whole history of the sculpture, its decapitation and severing of its various limbs in order that it could be cast in bronze. When it was first cast it was done in almost a single piece (rider and tail removed) in a great pit dug into the ground. It looked a little stark seeing bright white plaster across its neck so the decision was made to blend these areas in but not to disguise them totally so that its history was still visible.

In another medium, for Watts worked in many different forms, his portrait of Prince Edward was transformed from a painting without a frame, covered in spider faeces (I am afraid that this is accurate) to a stunning portrait that was reframed in a Watts frame and loaned to the library of Charterhouse, who very generously adopted it and paid for its extensive conservation kindly undertaken by Hamish Dewar and Ben Pearce. G F Watts was asked to paint a portrait of Edward Albert the Prince of Wales (1841-1910) by the benches of the Middle Temple in 1874. Watts was delighted with the commission but soon learnt the difficulties of producing a royal portrait. An initial visit of the Prince to Watts's studio at Little Holland House, Kensington, resulted in a fine chalk drawing. Subsequent sittings proved more difficult to arrange and Watts had to travel to Marlborough House, Pall Mall where the light was different and where constant interruptions were challenging for the artist. It was finally completed in 1882 where it was exhibited at the annual Grosvenor Gallery exhibition of that year. The bold full-length portrait was not to the tastes of the Middle Temple and Watts decided to keep the portrait and suggest the more conventional portraitist Frank Holl for their portrait. With this suggestion he returned the £1,000 cheque.