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Taking Care Of Rembrandt And Friends: Adventures In Painting Conservation with Sarah Fisher

December 9, 2020 @ 2:00 pm 3:00 pm EST


This online talk will take place via Zoom at 2 p.m. Eastern Time

This is the story of the conservation and treatment of fine art paintings, a story made more personal by tales and examples from the career of conservator Sarah Fisher who was the Head of Painting Conservation at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC for many years prior to retiring to Maine. Painting conservation is a fascinating combination of art, craft, and science, and has the goal of preserving the painting in as stable and long-lasting a condition as possible, using materials as stable and compatible with the original as possible and resulting in the painting’s appearance after treatment being as “appropriate” as possible. The complexities of this goal are illustrated by stories of paintings treated during the speaker’s 32 years working at the National Gallery and by a step by step discussion of how practical painting conservation treatments are carried out. What are the important issues, what is the history of certain types of treatments, some discarded over time, and what materials have stood the test of time?  What conservation facilities does a large museum like the National Gallery have that can analyze and help in better understanding the paintings undergoing treatment? And finally, what other aspects are there to the job of painting conservator in a large museum? The speaker will also describe a few of her adventures traveling with the collection’s paintings outside the museum, watching over them as they travel to and from exhibitions around the world.

Sarah Fisher’s conservation career spanned 45 years. She has an undergraduate degree in art history and minored in studio art, started her training in conservation in Italy working on flood-damaged paintings in Florence in 1967. She continued a self-designed apprenticeship education in Europe, studying in conservation programs in Stuttgart, Zurich, Amsterdam and Brussels before returning to jobs in the U.S. in the Intermuseum Laboratory in Oberlin, Ohio and at the Balboa Art Conservation Center in San Diego prior to being hired by the National Gallery in 1981. There she was initially Senior Conservator of Paintings before becoming head of the department about 10 years later. She retired to Damariscotta with her husband in 2012 , following years of visiting family in the area. She has taken up her own painting since then, creating new art rather than taking care of old art, the great icons of our culture.

Cost: $10; members free