I’m currently watching a programme about art. In this episode they are researching a wall painting on the plaster of a bedroom in a house in Surrey. Ben Nicholson was a friend of the one-time owner and is supposedly the painter of the piece. If it is by Nicholson it will be valuable enough to justify preserving it (which probably involves removing a piece of the wall). If not, I fear it may just be destroyed. It all comes down to money. Conserving paintings and removing sections of wall is not a cheap undertaking. However, I like the detective work and the technology.
The question of attribution was finally solved by the art experts (though it was an opinion, of course, rather than fact). They believe that the painting is a joint effort between Nicholson and his mate, This brings the estimated value down from £200,000 to about £50 – 100,000. Nobody is quite sure what a joint work is worth because this is the only one known. This, fortunately, is enough to justify removing the painting.
To do this they paste tissue on the surface (using special glue and tissue), sandwich the wall between two pieces of thick plywood and cut round it. The strange thing is that although I’ve never seen it done before I could (with the exception of the special tissue) have worked out the method. All those years of messing about in poultry sheds seems to have paid off. I miss the days spent with tools and practicality – life as a shop assistant with a computer lacks an element of challenge. It’s OK trying to use sales techniques on eBay, but you never know if something sells because of your skill and knowledge or because it’s too cheap. Or just through blind chance.
Working with tools is a very good, lifelong skill.
I watched that programme too. The things that always strikes me is that the value of a painting seems to be determined not by how good the painting is but by who painted it.
Yes. I actually liked the paintings by the friend more than the Nicholson pictures. I also noted that being an art expert seems to be money for old rope – just grow a beard and have an opinion.
Skill or luck (in this case cheap pricing) isn’t that the eternal question?
Yes. I was extensively trained as a salesman and most of my sales were due to luck, timing, personality or persistence. We were always expensive so cost didn’t come unto it. Sales skills hardly came into it. 🙂
Each to his own, Quercus. Why do you think Jackie is the Maintenance Department?
I thought that was just because cookery, driving, gardening and nursing didn’t present enough of a challenge. 🙂
Glad to read that all those years of messing about in a poultry shed have paid off. 😉
Everything is blind chance. I used to teach woodwork and I can hardly use my right hand any more and holding a chisel at a lathe can’t be done anymore. So I empathise.
I had thought about taking up wood turning again (I used to do it with my grandfather) but my hands are no longer up to it. This is a double wrench as I have all his tools and always daydreamed of using them in retirement.
I wish I still had my lathe. And all my chisels.
We never seem to keep the right things . . .
I’ve got all my books and none of my tools. sign’d Richard Cranium.
The first part sounds like a great title for an autobiography and the second seems to describe me too, if I interpret it correctly. 🙂