Conservation

In this drawing on light brown paper, a slender man sits atop a horse, his back turned to the viewer. The horse is indicated by only a few black strokes that define its torso and saddle. The man holds the reins and firmly plants a foot in a stirrup. A few highlights of white dot his shirt and pants, and his sleeves are colored bluish black. His grey face is seen in profile, as he looks to the right. He wears a visor cap that shades his eyes. In the lower left side, the artist’s signature, “Degas,” appears in a red stamp.

Homecoming for a Degas Drawing

Paper conservator Anne Driesse discusses the treatment of a long-lost Degas drawing that only recently returned to the museums.

By Anne Driesse

A woman with shoulder-length dark brown hair, wearing a light brown sweater, sits very close to an unframed painting of geometric shapes set on an easel. Beyond the easel are gray cabinets and to the left is a white wall with a door.

Faktura, Not Fiction: El Lissitzky’s Proun 12E

The market for Russian avant-garde paintings has been plagued with forgeries. Paintings conservator Ellen Davis shows—through the results of her technical examination—exactly how El Lissitzky’s Proun 12E stands apart from the fakes.

By Ellen Davis

A large rectangular off-white linen textile lies flat on a large table. Four people stand around the table looking at the textile, a set of large windows behind them. The textile has four purple squares in the middle and pairs of purple bands at either end. The central area contains loops of pile fabric with stripes of red, green, and blue loops bordering the purple bands. A man in the background at far right is standing at a table working.

Unraveling the (Production) Secrets of an Egyptian Textile

Conservation fellow Julie Wertz studied a large, early Byzantine textile in our collections to discover how it was produced.

By Julie H. Wertz

Roughly square in format, the black and white drawing on bluish-gray paper depicts a dromedary in three-quarter view. The animal’s head is turned to face the viewer. It wears a bridle, and long tufts of fur hang from its neck and sprout from its hump.

Making Blue Paper in the French Countryside

Our paper conservator journeyed to France to learn how to make blue paper in the traditional way.

By Penley Knipe

Smith stands in the gallery in front of a gold-framed landscape; she gestures with her hands while looking at the work. She has brown hair, wears glasses, and her purple blouse has blue, orange-red, and light gray polka dots. The painting shows a green fi

Staff Picks: Conservator Kate Smith’s Favorite Work of Art

Conservator Kate Smith tells us why a painting by George Inness is her favorite work of art in the Harvard Art Museums.

Woman standing beside the Forbes Pigment Collection cabinets handles materials with gloved hands and has a tray of pigments and materials in front of her.

Pigment Collection Colors All Aspects of the Museums

Only a small portion of our famous Forbes Pigment Collection is on display. But its influence is felt throughout the museums every day.

Three people sit at a table to view various prints in the Art Study Center

Getting Technical: Prints and Drawings Workshop at the Museums

During a recent Getty Foundation–funded workshop, participants from institutions around the world joined experts from the Harvard Art Museums and beyond to learn about the collaborative stewardship of collections.

By Brianne Chapelle

An oil painting of a boy atop a horse pulling a harrow made of short branches with another young boy sitting atop the harrow.

Clarity on Homer’s Brush Harrow

Paintings conservation fellow Anne Schaffer shares how a simple treatment revealed a critical detail in Winslow Homer’s The Brush Harrow.

By Anne Schaffer

Black and white photograph of Edward Waldo Forbes and eight students sitting in chairs in a classroom in the Fogg Museum.

The Fruits of Forbes’s Travels

What began as an interest in painting led to Edward Waldo Forbes’s extensive travel in England and Italy and an education in connoisseurship, artists’ materials, and techniques.

By Michelle Interrante

A Painting with Presence

The largest work in The Bauhaus and Harvard, Herbert Bayer’s Verdure required special efforts as it was cleaned and installed.