Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the establishment and early operations of the Museum's conservation laboratory and the technology heralded at that time by curators and conservators for permitting a more scientific approach to connoisseurship as well as restoration programs. As such, the material primarily documents the activities of Henri Marceau, Curator of Painting and Sculpture, and of the John G. Johnson Collection, and David Rosen, who served as an adviser to the Museum's conservation and technical research projects. Consisting primarily of correspondence, photographs and other papers, the "Subject" series offers a general description of Marceau's efforts to set up the Museum's laboratory, and his collaboration with Rosen in using technology, including advanced photographic means, to determine the authenticity, condition and history of a work of art. Institutional minutes and conference handouts document efforts at the time to professionalize the practice of conservation and promote standards in education. Far more extensive and complete in documentation are the various photographic images comprising the "Works of art" series, which is primarily the work of David Rosen. Working out of his laboratories at the Museum and at the Walters Art Gallery, as well as in his New York City studio, Rosen examined more than 400 art objects, using a number of photographic techniques. The series thus consists of an extensive collection of film and glass plate negatives, the index cards that record the various photographic methods used, as well as prints and lantern slides, many of which were made from the negatives, in addition to other sources. While most of Rosen's images were taken for study purposes only, many also document any conservation work he performed, including surface cleaning, repair, and in the case of panel paintings, replacing back supports and wax impregnation to wood. In addition to paintings from the John G. Johnson Collection and other works owned by the Museum, objects owned by other institutions and individuals are also documented here. Most of these were works on loan to the Museum that Rosen examined and sometimes restored.