Great (Artist) Aunt Margaret

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Everybody thinks their Great Aunt Margaret is a great artist.

Many of us have things passed down from our family, maybe stuffed in boxes in the attic or basement, that are treasures to us. These treasures, though maybe not valuable in the eyes of the public (or art market), are priceless to us. “Everybody thinks their Great Aunt Margaret was a great artist,” said one of our clients. Yet sometimes, as that same client found out, it turns out to be true.

Before and After Treatment

Before and After Treatment

Margaret Lowengrund was an American artist working from the 1930s until her death in 1957. She showed works in Philadelphia, New York City, Woodstock, and abroad, most notably at the Salon d’Automne in Paris in 1927. Out of the two shown, one was purchased by the British Museum, and the occasion was written about in the New York Evening Post in November of the same year.

A 1927  Evening Post  with an article on Lowengrund.

A 1927 Evening Post with an article on Lowengrund.

Aside from her personal artistic career, Lowengrund was an editor for Art Digest magazine and became well-known through her work in print-making. As a rising medium in the United States, there were few facilities for artists at the time to create prints like etchings and lithographs, so Lowengrund founded and directed a communal print-making studio called the Contemporaries Graphic Art Center.

The print at the light bleaching station about to lie under 8 hours of artificial light.

The print at the light bleaching station about to lie under 8 hours of artificial light.

 
Verso During Treatment

Verso During Treatment

Verso After Treatment

Verso After Treatment

TREATMENT

  • Surface cleaning of the entire piece

  • The print was submerged in a water bath of deionized water to help facilitate the removal of the mat from the piece

  • Residual adhesive on the back of the piece was removed with conservation-grade solvents

  • The print went through a few more water baths to reduce discoloration

  • The print was transferred to the light bleaching station and sat under artificial light for around 8 hours to lighten the piece and reduce staining

  • The print was dried between blotters to prevent distortion

  • For storage reasons, the print was not framed

The piece our client had treated at The Center was a lithograph Lowengrund probably produced while she was in Paris. The print depicts the interior of the Café au Lapin Agile in Paris, a famous café where great artists and thinkers of the turn of the century went to socialize.

Looming over the crowd on the right side on the composition is a large crucifixion sculpture, which can be seen in the historical photograph below.

An historic photograph of the Cafe au Lapin Agile.

An historic photograph of the Cafe au Lapin Agile.

I am not particularly concerned about having a beautiful scene or subject to paint. I want to recreate the commonplace through my own personality and make it interesting.
— Margaret Lowengrund in The New York Evening Post

Our client is excited to continue collecting her Great Aunt Margaret’s work. She hopes one day to donate her collection to a museum, where Lowengrund’s art can be viewed and valued by the public.

After Treatment

After Treatment

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