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50% Discount: Burlington Feature on Mary Merrifield's Quest

The Art of Conservation XI - Mary Merrifield’s quest: a new methodology for technical art history, by Zahira Véliz Bomford

In the mid-nineteenth century Mary Merrifield (1804–89) set the standards for the scientific understanding of the painting techniques of the old masters that still informs conservation treatment and technical art history today. An indefatigable traveller and a talented linguist, she trawled through archives in France and Italy to find early accounts of the techniques used by artists, interviewed picture restorers, studied paintings closely and wrote about her discoveries in The Art of Fresco Painting (1846) and Original Treatises dating from the XIIth to the XVIIIth centuries on the arts of painting… (1849). 

Her reports to Sir Charles Eastlake, Director of the National Gallery, had a profound effect on the care and conservation of paintings in the national collection. She also reported to the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, who had hoped that Merrifield’s publications could help to found a national school of fresco painters that could  decorate the new Houses of Parliament, rebuilt after the fire of 1834 destroyed the old Palace of Westminster, but this never materialised.

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The Art of Conservation, published on a bimonthly basis, covers the history of conservation from the 17th century to the present day. The themes of the articles have been selected by a committee of practising conservators and historians of conservation, including David Bomford, Ann Massing, Joyce Hill Stoner, Jan Piet Filedt Kok, Zahira Véliz Bomford, and Ian McClure, many of whom will also be contributing to the series. 

Read more about the current issue.

Lead Image: Courtsey of The Burlington (c)


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