Behind the Scenes in Conservation: A Royal Portrait

by Conservation

7/11/2019

behind the scenes , Portrait Miniatures , conservation , Alyn Williams , paintings

Later this month a group of portrait miniatures will go on view highlighting women artists and subjects.  One of the miniatures that came through the paper conservation lab is this elegant portrait by Alyn Williams, the Welsh-born artist who founded the Society of Miniature Painters, now the Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers, in 1896. 

The woman in the portrait is Queen Mary, wife of King George V and grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II.  The watercolor on ivory painting is one of the largest miniatures in the exhibit, measuring more than 11 x 6 inches, approaching the maximum size allowed by the Society when it was founded.  The large size (large for a miniature) is fitting for a royal portrait. 

In contrast, some of the miniatures that will be shown in this display measure no more than 2 inches high.  Surface grime needed to be removed from the glass and frame to allow the painting to be seen at its best.  The cotton swabs next to the painting show some of the dust and grime that had accumulated over the years.  The portrait of Queen Mary, with its companion portrait of King George V, is part of a generous gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Fleischmann III.  See Mighty Women in Miniature in Gallery 213 beginning July 27.