“Speaking of blue (see my last post), the interesting thing about our new LED lighting system is how it can accentuate blue pigments in our works on view. It’s subtle, but enough to reveal how Maurice-Quentin de La Tour used blue paper to its full advantage in setting the cool atmosphere in his self portrait. Curator Gloria Williams Sander and I recently had the chance to examine this exquisite pastel out of its frame. To our delight, we were able to document how it remains stretched on its original wooden strainer. The edges had once been protected with several layers of pasted paper, including some French-language newsprint. These brittle layers have flaked away to reveal bits of the original, un-faded blue paper, protected for more than 250 years from light. Ultraviolet light reveals how the artist worked to allow the blue hue of the paper to show through the pastel, especially on the chin.”–John G.
Curious about museum conservation? Join us for a new series with our Conservator John Griswold about his projects at the Museum.
Maurice-Quentin de La Tour (French, 1704–1788), Self-Portrait, 1764, pastel on paper, Norton Simon Art Foundation