A Mangled Matisse

Matisse With Bad Packing
Eva,  Henri Matisse 1948 20.5” x 16”

This Matisse drawing was poorly packed and handled: the glass shattered, lacerating the paper, and the artwork came unhinged from its mount, creasing it. The piece arrived at The Center with twelve major tears, innumerable minute punctures, scratches and abrasions from scattered glass shards, and severe distortions in the sheet. After the damage was properly documented, the conservator removed the hinge material from the back of the sheet and carefully surface-cleaned around the drawn lines. To flatten the deformations and realign the tears and punctures, the drawing was humidified within the controlled environment of a gortex membrane and then relaxed further in a shallow bath of water. Before the sheet dried, the tears were repaired and the gaps were patched with toned mending paper. The sheet was then dried between cotton blotters and final touch-ups were applied. Thanks to this treatment process, the distortions of the Matisse drawing were significantly reduced.