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Subject: A death

A death

From: Kathleen Kennelly <kathleen_kennelly<-at->
Date: Thursday, August 1, 2013
On May 20, 2013, Elizabeth H. Jones died as she wanted, peacefully
in her sleep in her early 18th-century house in Woodbury,
Connecticut, with her beloved niece, Leslie, at her side.

She was born in nearby Waterbury, where she graduated from St
Margaret's School, and she earned a degree in fine arts from Vassar
College in 1940. She then studied painting at the Art Students
League of New York for two years before joining the war effort in
the drafting department of Pratt and Whitney in Hartford.

After the war, Betty decided that "she was not cut out to be an
artist" and apprenticed with art conservator Caroline Keck, while
studying chemistry at New York University. She received her master's
degree in fine arts from Radcliffe in 1948 and immediately began
working in the Conservation Department of the Fogg Museum. In 1951
she directed a National Parks Service restoration project at
Independence Hall in Philadelphia and later the National Portrait
Gallery in Washington. In 1952 she returned to Harvard and served 22
years as Head of the Conservation Department and Keeper of Silver of
the Harvard Art Museums. After an early retirement to Woodbury she
was called back to Boston to serve as Chief Conservator at the
Museum of Fine Arts. While there she prepared the paintings from the
museum's collection for the Copley and Monet shows. In addition to
the catalogue of the Monet show, her publications include technical
articles on picture varnishes and their solvents. She was a Fellow
of the International Institute for Conservation and the American
Institute for Conservation (AIC). She served as vice chairman of the
AIC in the early 1960s.

Beginning in 1967 Betty devoted many months to the preservation and
restoration of paintings, sculptures, and structures that were
ravaged by floods in Venice, Italy. Working under the auspices of
the Committee to Rescue Italian Art (CRIA), she spent the summers of
1969, 1971, and 1972 in Venice. During the academic year, when she
was based in Cambridge, she participated in a number of events to
raise funds for CRIA.

Betty had been trained in a university museum, where scholarship was
of extreme importance. In her labs, using binocular microscopes,
X-ray imaging, ultraviolet light, and spectrometers, she was able to
look below the surface of the paint, see the artist's sketches and
follow their creative process, and analyze the chemical composition
of pigments. In consultation with her colleagues and scholars, she
would preserve the original work of the artist as differentiated
from the work of later restorers. The results were sometimes
startling. She cleaned off layers of yellowed varnish and grime of
works by old masters, such as Poussin. Her work revealed the
brilliant ultramarine he used, a pigment that was more costly than
gold. Betty took a special interest in the history of ultramarine
and also that of a yellow pigment made from tin and lead, which was
used only in the Renaissance. Her research established its usage as
a reliable tool for dating and authentication.

Betty felt that students should learn from the artist and took
special care always to welcome them into the conservation
laboratory. From 1957 until her retirement she held a lectureship in
the Harvard Fine Arts Department, and she personally educated many
graduate students who would go on to careers in museums. They
learned from her the principles of conservation, proper
environmental and exhibition conditions, and handling procedures,
which they went on to apply to the collections under their care.
These museum professionals and also the academic art historians that
she educated never forgot her first lesson: allow the work of art,
in the original, to tell you all it knows.

She is survived by her nephews, Bennett Jones of Cambridge, Daniel
Jones of Exeter, New Hampshire, and numerous grandnieces and
grandnephews and their families. There will be a family internment
service this summer. Donations in her name can be made to the

    Fogg Museum,
    Institutional Advancement
    32 Quincy Street
    Cambridge MA 02138

Please contact Thomas H. Woodward, Director of Development,
617-384-7317 with any questions about making your gift.

                  Conservation DistList Instance 27:8
                 Distributed: Thursday, August 8, 2013
                        Message Id: cdl-27-8-001
Received on Thursday, 1 August, 2013

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