In 1883 while presenting a lecture at Oxford, premier art critic John Ruskin said that “for a long time I used to say, in all my elementary books, that except in a graceful and minor way, women could not draw or paint. I’m beginning to bow myself to the much more delightful conviction that no one else can.” It was the paintings of artist Lilias Trotter (1853-1928) which were causing Ruskin to question his convictions. With Ruskin’s support, Trotter was at the cusp of a new career that could have changed art history; in fact, Ruskin believed that if Trotter devoted herself completely to her artwork, that "she would be the greatest living painter and do things that would be immortal."
For most people, the top drawers of their bedroom dressers are reserved for mismatched socks, so it was a delightful surprise for Rick Eisenstein to find a 97-year-old photograph rolled up in his father's old dresser drawer. "When he was in the hospital, I was looking for some clothes to take to him and came across this rolled up picture," Rick explained. "His parents were very important to him--with that being said, he was not a very sentimental person and kept very few things from his younger days." This photograph, however was special: his father kept it for nearly 60 years. Rick made a decision to bring the picture to The Conservation Center for examination and conservation.
One of the misconceptions concerning work performed at an art treatment facility such as The Conservation Center is that an object or a piece of art must have significant value on the market to qualify for professional care. This is simply not the case. While many of our clients have high-end pieces that belong to large-scale collections and museums, our conservators also specialize in treating family antiques and heirlooms that have sentimental value.
Family heirlooms connect generations in a deep, personal way. From the handed down bible and grandmother’s knitted quilt, to a late 1800s baptismal gown and photos of a relative going off to war—anyone who has found or kept historic pieces in the family knows how moving they can be. These treasured items, passed down through the decades, provide insight into the lives of our ancestors and a richer understanding of our family's history.
In the 1890’s, an English woman named Lilias Trotter sketched and wrote entries in her journals nearly every day for the last 40 years of her life. These small masterpieces documented her time spent in North Africa on missionary work. Three of those journals were recently discovered in Surrey, England and have been restored and digitized by The Conservation Center for future generations. Provided is a narrative of Trotter’s life and the challenge of tracking down these journals and sketchbooks as told by her biographer, Miriam Rockness.
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