Two works from The Hyde Collection have recently underwent extensive conservation efforts. Read on to find out which pieces and why they’re worth checking out.
The Hyde’s Madonna by Andrea della Robbia, a terracotta sculpture ca. 1480, and a landscape painting, A Peep Into Lake George (1873) by James Brade Sword, are now being presented for the first time since undergoing conservation. The Williamstown + Atlanta Art Conservation Center took on these projects, with the restorations funded by a grant from Greater Hudson Heritage Network.
Museum founder Charlotte Hyde purchased Madonna from the Brummer Gallery in New York in 1936 and had the statue installed at the foot of the stairs in the Hyde House. The piece is a high-relief representation of the Virgin Mary, and was likely originally part of a large-scale, multi-piece depiction of Adoration of the Christ Child.
Conservators noted damaged areas on the figure’s neck, hands, halo, nose, and cheek. Upon further examination, they found the damage was more extensive than initially anticipated – over 30% of the sculpture.
A Peep Into Lake George is an ideal example of the Hudson River School, a movement considered to be the first distinctly American school of landscape painting. Donated to The Hyde just last fall, this piece had a yellowish tint. Old varnish diminished the painting’s effect and concealed key details in the work, making it a key candidate for restoration.
Hyde Director of Curatorial Affairs and Programming Jonathan Canning elaborated in a statement on why these restorations are so fascinating and significant:
“You never know what you’re going to uncover when you start to conserve a work of art. In one of these projects, we found evidence of the longevity of Renaissance ceramic techniques; in the other, we uncovered changes made by the artist himself, invisible at the time, but that over the centuries became increasingly obvious and distracting. But we learn so much about an artist’s technique from these sort of discoveries. It keeps us on our toes.”
You can check out these two pieces on display at The Hyde now through September 15th.