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Subject: Painting on animal hide

Painting on animal hide

From: Geoffrey I. Brown <gibrown>
Date: Monday, April 6, 1998
Lydia Johnson's query regarding an Indian head painted on a skin may
refer to what has become to me a very familiar type of art/artifact.
Around the turn of the (last) century, Indian portrait paintings
were apparently created for a variety of purposes using oil paints
on tanned sheepskins. I conserved a set of three last year for
Wolverine Leather, Inc.  The images included the logo and
advertising of the predecessor company in addition to the portraits.

A few months ago, another set of three Indian portrait sheepskins
showed up in the Lab from an independent source.  These are not
commercial signage, but appear to have been done as art and the
subjects are identified.  The paintings are signed by the artist and
dated 1906, Portland, OR.

The common aspect of all these artifacts, in addition to the subject
matter and materials, is that they are suffering from terminal "red
rot". Using a variety of procedures, along with commercial treatment
with Parylene, I was able to repair, clean, stabilize, reinforce,
and mount them for display.  Although my initial opinion on seeing
the paintings was that the skins would last only a very few more
years and were virtually unmountable, the final results proved to be
rather miraculous.

Geoffrey I. Brown
Curator of Conservation
Kelsey Museum
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1390, U.S.A.
Fax: 734-763-8976

                  Conservation DistList Instance 11:81
                  Distributed: Tuesday, April 7, 1998
                       Message Id: cdl-11-81-003
Received on Monday, 6 April, 1998

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