With generous support from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Conservation Center offers a unique training program in the conservation of Old Master paintings. Focusing on cleaning and inpainting techniques, the program draws upon the vast number of works in the Samuel H. Kress Collection, which encompasses European art of the principal continental schools from the 13th to the early 19th centuries. Over 1,000 Italian paintings are held in more than 90 institutions in 33 states, with many of the most famous artists housed at the National Gallery of Art.
Dianne Dwyer Modestini, Senior Conservator of the Kress Program in Paintings Conservation, as well as consulting conservator to the Kress Collection and Institute Lecturer, and Nica Gutman Rieppi, Associate Conservator of the Kress Program in Paintings Conservation, provide advanced instruction in the treatment of these museum-quality Old Master paintings. The pictures are carefully selected as suitable upper-level student projects from collections that are housed in regional galleries and other institutions without resident conservation departments. Students carry out thorough examination and materials analysis of these paintings prior to their treatment. Paintings with more complicated needs are worked on by Dianne Dwyer Modestini or Nica Gutman Rieppi and serve an additional purpose as demonstrations of how to formulate and execute particularly demanding treatments. The close proximity and active interest of art historians from the Institute of Fine Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and other institutions, enhances and informs the treatments, providing new information about attribution, workshop practice, painting technique, original display, and later alterations. Approximately 150 Kress Collection paintings have been examined and/or treated at the Center since the inception of the pilot program in 1989.
The Kress Program in Paintings Conservation has also supported publication in the field of Italian paintings history, technology, and conservation treatment. In addition, we are excited to provide selected case studies from the Kress Program under the link, Kress Paintings Research, found on the main links list on the left. Another recent effort has been the collection of sixteen articles devoted to technical studies of paintings in the Kress Collection, Studying and Conserving Paintings: Occasional Papers on the Samuel H. Kress Collection. Recent graduates, fellows, and faculty, as well as scholars in the fields of art history and paintings conservation have contributed articles to the volume. Much of their research arose from questions posed during treatment of the paintings at the Conservation Center, and the ensuing articles are grouped around two major themes of interest to the field of paintings conservation, history of conservation and technical art history.