UP Arts committed to conserving unframed works of art

Posted on August 10, 2017

The Department of UP Arts have commenced with a major long-term project to conserve over 8600 unframed works of art on paper from the UP-Art Collection. It is well-known that the University is the custodian of an extensive art collection, many of which are on public exhibition across all nine campuses. However, the unframed works of art (e.g. prints, etchings, engravings, drawings and watercolours) tend to go unnoticed and in general, receive little attention often retained in museum storage. This pilot preservation project in association with Art Revive, is done with the specialist expertise of Sandra Markgraaf, an external art conservator. The works on paper range from as early as 16th century engravings through to 19th century European portraits that originate from the Van Gybland-Oosterhoff collection. Donated to the University of Pretoriain 1937, this collection can be considered the first major donation of an Art Collection. It also contains a one-of-a-kind engraved artwork dating back to 1580, making it the oldest artwork on paper at the University of Pretoria. The preservation process so far has revealed invaluable provenance information with "hidden" sketches, personal hand written notes and priceless information on the back of some of the artworks that were previously mounted and pasted onto board. The conservation process has thus revealed never-before-seen information, which is contributing to wider knowledge and new research about some of the valuable unframed works on paper in the UP-Art Collection.

- Author Sian Tiley-Nel

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