Star of Bethlehem, 1863
Elihu Vedder (American, 1836–1923)
Oil on canvas
Gift of Mrs. Hattie Bishop Speed 1938.56


The Star of Bethlehem could certainly shine a lot brighter; right now the Magi can’t find their way to the manger. With a thick layer of dirt and grime embedded in the thin, discolored layers of varnish, only a good cleaning and near removal of all the old varnish will return light to this scene. The results will be dramatic.

The conservator will first remove all the surface grime, then carefully remove the varnish, as well as a campaign of discolored retouching. A coat of stable, non-yellowing varnish will be added to increase visibility. The landscape will once again have a sense of depth and distance. Any losses or areas instability will be secured and inpainted.

And yes, that is a tiny cleaning patch in the center of the painting, between the sky and cloud, Look how blue that sky will be!