Madge or Maybe Nelly???

As I have been tucked away upstairs in the conservation department I thought it might be nice to show some of you the work that I’ve been doing here. I’m a student volunteer who comes here once a week in a bid to escape from essay writing at university, and my current project is the conservation of a painting that was hidden away in the Museum stores – an 18th century wedding portrait that I think is rather lovely (or at least it will be before too much longer, hopefully).

It is interesting to the Museum because it is part of the original collection bought by John and Josephine Bowes to furnish their museum, but very little is known about the provenance of the painting itself – the artist or the sitter especially. As a result it has probably never been displayed and has slipped into a bad state of disrepair. The pictures below show some of the things we’ve been up to so far.

Right now, I’m taking a break from removing glue by softening and scraping it from the back of the painting. This is pretty hard work, but it is a necessary step towards preparing the painting for further conservation steps to follow and I am very much looking forward to seeing the result.

We had a go at naming her, and the best we came up with was Madge, or maybe Nelly. Not terribly flattering and I don’t think it will stick, somehow! Has anybody got any other ideas?

Jemma Edwards, Conservation Student, Northumbria University

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