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BONHAMS AUCTION HOUSE A N D A P P R A I S E R S C O N S U LT S O N R A R E A N D VA L U A B L E E . C H A R LTO N F O RT U N E O I L PA I N T I N G F R O M 1 9 1 8 A B O U T C O N D I T I O N A N D A RT C O N S E RVAT I O N , PA I N T I N G R E S TO R AT I O N (A valuable example of diligence for collectors)


Recently Bonhams and Butterfield Art Auctioneers and Art Appraiser’s Scot Levitt, Head of Paintings Dept., called Scott M. Haskins at Fine Art Conservation Laboratories (aka FACL, Inc.) with the exciting find of a major oil painting by the CA Impressionist E. Charlton Fortune. It seemed to them important to establish the following facts and details (a lesson for your due diligence):

1. Even though the painting is not signed, is there any doubt about the attribution? 2. What condition is the painting in? 3. Would the painting sell for more cleaned or should they sell it dirty? 4. What were my thoughts about the original painting wrapped around the right side of the stretcher bars? Had it been made smaller? 5. It would be appreciated by interested buyers to have a condition report on letterhead and to know we looked at it. So here is the assessment of the painting, The Senora’s Garden, painted in about 1918 – 1920, 30″ x 26″, oil on canvas on April 8, 2013

Generally in good condition. Prior to conservation, the following conditions existed: 1. There was a small half circle tear (about the size of the end of a thumb) along the upper left side that was previously repaired poorly. Fill covered original paint and the indentation and overpaint was not carefully applied. 2. Random, (not during initial painting of artwork) later applications of paint were applied after the original painting had dried. These areas of repainting were located in all areas, most all colors. The paint is not of the same quality, solubility or consistency as the retouching on the damage. In a couple of test areas for removal, we found no damage to the original paint below. UV fluorescence of these overpainted additions was viewed but it was not conclusive that they are a retouching not done by the artist. All of this overpaint was under the layers of grime and discolored aged varnish. With the level of investigation that we performed (minimal) it is assumed that the repainting was a later re-working by the original artist. 3. Overall was a very discolored layer of resin and grime that was well attached (perhaps varnished over) into the deep recesses of the texture of the painting. 4. The original stretcher bars are period and low quality (but common). 5. The right vertical edge of the painting is wrapped around the old original stretcher bars. Given the use of original aged stretcher bars and given the original period frame in the size of this painting, it is my opinion that the change is size was done by the original artist. I don’t think this painting was exhibited during the artist’s time with a different size. 6. The painting technique of this painting is entirely consistent with other works I have known over the decades by this artist. Also, the original labels in the artist’s handwriting help to confirm the authorship.

Bonhams considered the cleaning of the painting and the reacquiring of the original colors very important to the best selling price of this painting. So, the painting was cleaned, varnished and the previous repair of the small rip was “refined.”

After Conservation

I hope this review of some of the questions that should be asked when evaluating a painting is instructional for you on the type of due diligence that can and should be done. We looked at this painting with UV in the process. Here’s a link to a page to teach you more about this invaluable tool you can learn to use to help you determine and discover unseen details and conditions that will have an impact on your purchase price: Questions about art conservation and painting restoration on your collection? Call Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438

Art appraisal questions? Call Richard Holgate at 805 895 5121 Follow us on Facebook at Scott M. Haskins, Fine Art Conservation, Tips for Art Collectors Here’s the catalog information from Bonham and Butterfield

Bonhams Auction House Consults On E. Charlton Fortune On Condition And Restoration Of Oil Painting  

This example of research and exam is good due diligence for art collectors - See reports

Bonhams Auction House Consults On E. Charlton Fortune On Condition And Restoration Of Oil Painting  

This example of research and exam is good due diligence for art collectors - See reports