Conservation makes a difference

 antiques and fine art

beforeDiscoveries are always being made, and having the right tools at one's disposal can make all the difference in the world. Case in point is the story of a former art dealer, who saw the landscape painting shown here at an auction preview in Culpepper, Virginia, the day prior to the sale. Though very dirty, the painting had interesting brush work and appeal. The signature: "M.N. MORAN" and a date of 1880 were visible. With twenty-four hours to do research, he visited, a site he knew connected people with appraisers and conservators. He learned that the artist was Mary Neemo Moran (1842-1899), wife of Thomas Moran (1837-1926), known primarily as an etcher, though some of her paintings are known. He also attained an estimate for conservation. Returning to the auction armed with this information, he purchased the painting for $1,200.

afterThe Art-Care conservator then cleaned the painting of layers of grime, infilling where necessary and uncovering a beautiful landscape with three Dutch-style windmills in the distant background. The new owner then uploaded a photo of the cleaned painting on and learned the windmills resembled those in The Hamptons, where the Moran's had a home. An Art-Care appraisal informed him he should expect to find a buyer in the range of $7,000 to $9,000. The painting was offered through Swann Galleries, with a reserve of $7,000. Checking the online internet results that night revealed that the lot had sold for $54,000 plus premium, for a total of $64,800. As the once-owner notes, "I was in the right place at the right time; I would have been hard pressed to move forward in our investigation with out the help of"