VMFA Blog

A blog by staff and others about the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Chelsea HIggs Wise and Howardena Pindell

Experiencing Howardena Pindell and VMFA through the Lens of Intersectionality

Pindell’s journey presented at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is unique to the artist but not unusual. We’ve heard the tale: the impressive work ethic of a brilliant black mind, occupying double roles, only to still fall short on respect from her white colleagues as well as the white-dominant art world. Pindell worked as…

Outside the Horses Tent by Gifford Beal: Surface Topography Illustration using Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI)

By Sydney Collins, Conservation Photographer; Carol Sawyer, Margaret H. & William E. Massey Sr. Conservator of Paintings; Aleyah Grimes, Meghan Mezera, and Morgan Shedd, IMLS Summer Interns As part of the “Connect to Conservation” program, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was able to host three summer interns with the generous support of the Institute…

Painting Conservation Report and Research Project conducted in anticipation of the 2017 exhibition Frédéric Bazille and the Birth of Impressionism at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

By Carol Sawyer, Margaret H. & William E. Massey Sr. Conservator of Paintings  Jean-Frédéric Bazille, The Artist’s Studio, Rue Visconti, Paris, 1867; oil on canvas, 25 ½ in x 19 in. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 83.4. Unlike Nicolas Poussin’s Achilles among the Daughters of Lycomedes, which contains…

Don’t be a Plunker!

French painter Henri Matisse once wrote, “There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” Well, it’s one thing to see them and another to be able to arrange them. So if the Matisse in you has ever wondered how to create a more refined floral display, look no further. As a lead…

Peptide analysis of a material imbedded into the abdomen and sides of this Songye Community Nkisi (VMFA 89.27)

Beneath the Surface of African Art: Leather, Bone and Blood- Proteomics in Art Conservation

By Casey Mallinckrodt, Andrew Mellon Assistant Conservator Conservators carry out technical analyses to identify materials to guide our decision-making, if treatment is required, and to predict and prevent future deterioration by ensuring that objects are handled and stored appropriately. In addition, technical information contributes to our understanding of an object within its cultural context and enhances what…

Q&A: Celebrate the Art of Latin America: Patagonia

In anticipation of VMFA’s next Family Day, which takes place Saturday, September 15, we sat down with Ana Ines King, artistic director for the Latin Ballet of Virginia, to discuss its  involvement in the recurring event. This Family Day, titled Celebrate the Art of Latin America, focuses on the region of Patagonia and includes performances…

How the Authenticity Question Surrounding Achilles Among the Daughters of Lycomedes, a Painting by Nicolas Poussin, was Resolved

By Carol Sawyer, Margaret H. & William E. Massey Sr. Conservator of Paintings The Painting Conservation Department performs treatments, examinations and research related to the VMFA painting collection. In the course of doing this work questions regarding the authenticity of a work of art sometimes arise. Technical analysis and in-depth examination of the materials and…

Napoleon: Fact or Fiction

Photo: David Stover © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Gallery views of Napoleon: Power and Splendor, June 9, 2018 – September 3, 2018 Napoleon Bonaparte, one of modern history’s most interesting and controversial figures, was replete with contradictions, leaving behind a legacy of notable and lasting achievements as well as millions of casualties and widespread…

Full Circle: VMFA Curator Valerie Cassel Oliver on Howardena Pindell

Howardena Pindell has consistently broken new ground during her five-decades-long artistic career. In 1967, she was the first female African American to graduate from Yale University’s MFA program then began working as the first female black curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Her diverse body of art—from abstract canvases to photography…

Manet’s Painting, On the Beach, Boulogne-sur-Mer

By Bruce Suffield While studying Édouard Manet’s painting, On the Beach, Boulogne-sur-Mer (Accession # 85.498), in the painting conservation studio, it was noted that the artist had used numerous and different brush strokes around one of the compositional elements.  He had most likely changed the area around the edges of the bathing machine or bathing…