Morning, before 1888
Elihu Vedder (American, 1836–1923)
Black ink, oil, watercolor, and pastel on paper mounted on board
Gift of Miss Anita Vedder 1938.52
Like evidence in a forensic investigation, this drawing offers clues to Vedder’s working process. He developed his design in stages, drawing on different pieces of paper, pinning them down to hold them in place, and eventually gluing them together like a collage. Unfortunately, the drawing was damaged in the process, leaving behind tears, holes, and cracks in the paint. Vedder also used an acidic cardboard for the framing window and support for the drawing, which served as a study for a stained-glass window. Over time, the acid will cause the paper to darken and become brittle—literally burning the drawing from the inside out. Conservation will stop that before it gets too bad. During treatment, the conservator will carefully (millimeter by millimeter) separate the framing window from the drawing using a Teflon spatula. Flecks of gold paint that have migrated from the mat to settle onto the drawing will be cleaned away, and adhesive will be used to secure areas that are lifting around cracks and tears.