About two months ago, I blogged about a wonderful, but very badly damaged 19th Century portrait I found at The Garage flea market here in NYC. It was dirty, badly torn and even missing canvas in a few spots, but I could see it was a diamond in the rough.
When I looked at the painting, I saw beauty and talent, and great potential for revival. As I mentioned in my post, I also felt a bit sentimental about saving the portrait, as a few more ‘issues’ and some might be inclined to give up hope and just toss him.
I got a great price from my dealer friend Angelo, and luckily I’ve got an incredibly talented restoration expert named Jean-Pierre, who I knew could return this painting back to its original glory.
I met with Jean-Pierre yesterday afternoon, and he unveiled a stunning restoration, and was so very eager to share some very exciting news with me. When he was cleaning the painting, Jean-Pierre discovered the signature of John Dabour (1837-1905), a well-listed artist who studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, was active in Paris, Maryland and New York, and painted President Robert E. Lee and other early historical luminaries. He also uncovered the date of 1873, and made sure to let me know Dabour’s work is exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institute, as well as in other notable museums.
Jean-Pierre was so happy that he was able to save this piece, and his joy was certainly contagious. I love people who are passionate about what they do, especially when it helps preserve history. Jean-Pierre mused that somewhere Dabour was smiling as this work will now be around for generations to come. It would be great to know who subject is in this portrait, so it is further research for me.
Of course, I just have to add that the metaphor of rescuing something that others have cast aside as damaged or broken is not lost on me. I am a huge champion of redemption, second chances and the proverbial helping hand.
Now that my portrait is in tip-top, museum quality condition, I’ll be searching for just the right period frame, and of course I love that kind of project. It’s all about the journey…
Dare To Repair…Art is a very personal thing, and if you find a painting that moves you, and have a great restoration person nearby, take the plunge! I did, and I was rewarded with a gorgeous portrait by a very well-listed artist!