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Subject: A death

A death

From: Margaret Contompasis <mcontomp>
Date: Monday, October 11, 2004
    Morton Bradley, at 92 renowned sculptor, art restorer By Gloria
    Negri Globe Staff September 30, 2004

    In the dead of winter, art restorer Morton C. Bradley Jr. could
    be found hunched over an art masterpiece in the backyard of his
    Arlington home, in a parka and fingerless gloves, perhaps with a
    neighborhood cat perched on his shoulder, working meticulously
    to bring back the painting's original luster. A man also known
    for his dazzling geometric metal sculptures that were widely
    exhibited, Mr. Bradley was restoring art at his table until
    several months ago when he fell and was hospitalized for a
    broken hip. Mr. Bradley, 92, who was considered the dean of
    American art restorers in the 1940s and 1950s, died Sunday at
    his home of cancer discovered when he was being treated for his
    hip. While hospitalized, friends said, Mr. Bradley, once head
    conservator at the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge, was making
    sketches for new sculptures and planning to move into another

    On the outdoor table, summer and winter, Mr. Bradley did
    restoration work for many museums, including the Boston Museum
    of Fine Arts, galleries, and private collectors. He used the
    outdoors not only to capture the natural light but to dispel the
    strong odor of the solvents and varnishes he used. Often with
    classical music playing in the background, neighborhood children
    and cats wandered by to watch. A lifelong bachelor, Mr. Bradley
    loved them all. When she was a child, his neighbor, Elizabeth
    Regan Dellanno, recalled Mr. Bradley giving her water and a blob
    of cotton on a dowel so she could mimic him by painting on the
    flagstone walk. Mr. Bradley was also a passionate collector of
    19th-century American paintings, many of which he donated to
    various museums, including the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard. He
    willed the remainder of his large collection and his sculptures
    to Indiana University Art Museum. Mr. Bradley was a generous
    man, said Kahlil Gibran, the Boston painter and sculptor and his
    friend of 60 years. When Gibran, godson of the famous poet, left
    his job as restorer at the Fogg Art Museum to spend a summer
    painting in Provincetown, he said it was Mr. Bradley, his
    replacement at the Fogg, who asked him if he needed some money.
    "I had $45 in the bank," Gibran said. "Before I left, a $200
    check arrived from Bob. He was the linchpin in my career."

    A cum laude graduate of the Harvard College class of 1933, and a
    very private man, Mr. Bradley never bragged about his
    achievements. But friends remembered him for his brilliant mind,
    his generous spirit, and his classical piano playing. "Bob was a
    genius," said Carroll Wales of Arlington, whom Mr. Bradley
    mentored in restoration. "It was almost impossible to ask him a
    question about restoration that he couldn't answer." Wales was
    studying art at Harvard in the 1940s when he first met Mr.
    Bradley at the Fogg. "It was a time when there were not too many
    restoration studios and the Fogg was one of the earliest and one
    of the busiest," said Wales, who took lessons there. In 1966,
    after floods in Florence, Italy, damaged many priceless art
    works, Mr. Bradley and Wales were among a group of international
    restorers who went there to help save them. Wales said Mr.
    Bradley taught him that a restorer must have "a tremendous
    amount of patience, has to love the work he is doing, and make
    sure he is not harming but achieving his goal."

    In his restoration work, Mr. Bradley made several innovative
    discoveries, Wales said. One was that meat tenderizer could
    remove glue from the back of a painting. "To scrape it off would
    do damage to the painting," Wales said. Another of his
    discoveries, Wales said, was that the paper used to make tea
    bags served just as well as the harder-to-get Japanese rice
    paper used to cover a painting when work is being done on its
    back side.

    In the late 1940s, Mr. Bradley began creating his mostly metal
    geometric sculptures, hung like mobiles and exhibited mostly at
    museums and colleges including the Museum of Science and the
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He loved them so much,
    his friends said, he declined to sell even one. The largest of
    Mr. Bradley's sculptures, named "The Tree," was 7 feet in
    diameter and had 5,005 pieces of brass tubing in 32 colors, said
    Hal Robinson, an Arlington machinist and engineer. He conceived
    of the idea for the work, and Robinson and other members of Mr.
    Bradley's "loosely knit renaissance workshop" of friends helped
    in its creation. "The sculptures turned very slowly," Robinson
    said. "With 'The Tree,' the movement showed it changing with the
    seasons. I never saw it but Mr. B could see in his mind how
    these geometric things could fit together and work."

    Mr. Bradley was also a published author. His "The Treatment of
    Paintings" appeared in 1950. "It represented a turning point in
    the field of art technology and remains a historic reference for
    art restorers," Priest said. Mr. Bradley even restructured the
    Gospels into cadenced form in "The New Testament in Cadenced
    Form" in which he changed the structure of the wording to make
    the lines shorter and easier to read. Gibran painted the cover
    for his friend's book.

    Mr. Bradley was born in Arlington, one of two children of Morton
    Clark Bradley and Marie Louise (Boison), both Indiana natives.
    His maternal grandfather taught modern languages at Indiana
    University and his grandmother taught drawing in the
    Bloomington, Ind., schools. Mr. Bradley considered himself a
    Hoosier, friends said, and still kept the 100-year-old Christmas
    cactus his parents brought when they moved from Indiana, Gibran

    On graduating from Harvard, Mr. Bradley won a Bacon Scholarship
    that allowed him to travel to Italy and then to Belgium, where
    he studied piano. He still played classical music on his piano
    until arthritis set in several years ago, and attended the opera
    with friends. "Bob didn't want to retire," Wales said.

    While Mr. Bradley has no immediate family, there were, Gibran
    said, "countless people who adored him because he was simple and
    honest and pure. He quipped a lot. He would always say, 'Well,
    I'll brood about that.' "

Joe Dellanno
my Design/Build Coach,Inc.
my Design/Build Project,Inc.
Design Solutions, Inc.
Fax: 781-641-9895

                  Conservation DistList Instance 18:18
                Distributed: Thursday, October 14, 2004
                       Message Id: cdl-18-18-001
Received on Monday, 11 October, 2004

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