Until stumbling upon the celebrity version of art restoration in National Treasure it is easy to overlook this work that goes on daily in museums around the globe. Fascination and awe are two words that describe the craft that goes into painting conservation and restoration. I was unaware as an art student that this was even something that occurred-no one should ever touch a painting!- as I almost dutifully walked through museums keeping my hands to myself. After careful studying of the layers upon layers of richly applied paint and seeing their yellowish tinges and glazes dull the otherwise vibrant works of art, one acknowledges the need for works of art to be preserved-ever so delicately.
Strolling through the Art Institute, a giddy art student indulging in a solo trip to to this amazing museum, I fell in love with Gustave Caillebotte’s massive work, Paris Street; Rainy Day.
The sheer size of this painting is breathtaking hanging at over 6 feet tall and over nine feet wide! Walking around in the Impressionist wing of the museum, it is easy to get lost, and absorb so much art that your head becomes slightly dizzy. Especially for non art-geek types. 😉 However, when you enter the room where the Caillebotte is housed, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Caillebotte, a 29 year old French Impressionist, applied and blended the colors on this canvas to perfectly Impressionistic. The rich, neutral tones give rise to the dreary, yet beautiful colors of a day filled with slow, constant rainfall. Just observing the painting for a few moments renders the viewer in need of a cup of tea and a book to read, curled up on the sofa.
The video below shows the time, effort, and obvious love that is taken upon this painting restoration by Faye Wrubel, for the Art Institute.
One is left feeling grateful and satisfied that Ms. Wrubel has allowed this exquisite piece of history to hang, shining on the wall for all to experience, in a better state than when she found it.