Project: Painting of William Cawkwell - by National Railway Museum, York, UK
The National Railway Museum has an art collection containing over a thousand paintings. Many of them are depictions of locomotives and original artwork for railway posters, but perhaps few people will realise that we also preserve an excellent collection of railway portraits.
One of these is a portrait of William Cawkwell, who was General Manager of the London & North Western Railway between 1858 and 1874. Cawkwell was born in 1807, the son of a Manchester stage-coach proprietor, and joined the Manchester & Leeds Railway in 1840 as a clerk at Brighouse station. He rose rapidly through the ranks and was appointed Traffic Manager of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway in 1853, before taking up his post with the LNWR five years later. Despite ill health, Cawkwell proved an able and astute manager for the LNWR during sixteen years of expansion, amalgamation and political manoeuvring.
On his retirement Cawkwell joined the NRM board and in 1889 sat for a portrait which was hung in a committee room at Euston station. The artist was Hubert Herkomer, a Bavarian-born painter, illustrator, printmaker and teacher. Herkomer exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy, was Slade Professor of Art at the University of Oxford and was knighted in 1907. The painting of Cawkwell cost the LNWR £100, with an additional £18 for the frame.
Cawkwell died in 1897. In his obituary he was described as an austere and reserved railway manager, who in later life became “cheerful, kindly and genial”. The author, who seems to have known him well, remarked that when telling a story his face “would light up with a smile at one humorous and expressive” and Herkomer appears to have caught this aspect of Cawkwell’s personality in his portrait.
Euston station, with its magnificent Great Hall and elegant boardrooms was demolished in the early 1960s, to make way for an improved track layout and new buildings in glass and concrete. At some stage Cawkwell’s portrait appears to have been relegated to a store, where it became wet and suffered damage before it was acquired by the National Railway Museum’s predecessor, the Museum of British Transport.
In 2014, we commissioned David Everingham Conservation Ltd to treat the painting. This was financed by the proceeds of a prize draw held at the museum’s Annual Dinner. One of the first tasks for David and his team was to ensure that the painting was structurally sound. The canvas had shrunk from being wet, causing the oil paint to raise and flake. The conservators therefore placed the painting in a humidity tent made of polythene mounted on a wooden framework. Increasing the humidity allowed them to stretch the canvas back to its original form, eliminating distortions. The conservators then laid down the flaking paint and consolidated it to prevent any further loss.
The portrait was cleaned of dirt and yellowed varnish, during which a white surface discolouration known as blanching was also removed. The losses of paint were then infilled and textured to match Herkomer’s original paint, and conservation was complete.
With limited gallery space available, the painting has currently been returned to storage, but we hope to exhibit it at a later date.
Project: Conservation of The Last Communion of Saint Raymond Nonnatus by Francisco Pacheco
The Last Communion of Saint Raymond Nonnatus is a work of great significance and is one of six paintings that Francisco Pacheco (1564-1654) had made during his time. He is highly regarded as a master of the second generation of painters that resided in Seville during this period.
Francisco Pacheco was also the author of an important treatise that discussed the practises and theories of painting, known as the Arte de la Pintura, which was instrumental in the development of Spanish Baroque painting. The painting follows the techniques of his treatise, as chemical analysis has proven that the ground colour came from silt of the Guadalquivir River.
With assistance from the National Gallery, the painting was lined and professionally cleaned, before the badly worn areas were reconstructed. David Everingham then took up the mantle, eventually going freelance to concentrate on the mammoth project in his Yorkshire studio.
Project: Stations of the Cross, Leeds Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Anne
Conservation of oil-on-copper stations of the cross at the Leeds Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Anne, West Yorks, 2006.
The fourteen Stations of the Cross, painted by Cesare T.G. Formili in the northern Renaissance style, and installed in Leeds Cathedral in 1912, are identical in construction, consisting of oil-on-copper panels housed in timber (probably oak), partly gilded frames
The stations of the cross at St Anne’s were obscured by layers of dust, smoke and pollutants deposited over many decades. Surface cleaning revealed the intensity of colouring as intended by Formili and complimented the superb restoration of the interior of St Anne’s during 2004-2006.
Bury Parish Church 2008-2011
1) Surface cleaning, removal of discoloured varnish, re-gilding and retouching of paint loss.
3) Conservation of oil-on-copper panels depicting scenes from the life of The Virgin Mary, commissioned by J.S. Crowther.
2) Conservation of painted and gilded oak reredos designed by J. Harold Gibbons of Westminster, carved by Boulton and Sons of Cheltenham from English oak and painted by Gugleilus Tosl. Surface cleaning, removal of wax deposits, re-gilding.
4) Re-gilding of the wrought-iron screen designed by George Gilbert-Scott.
Project: All Souls Church, Leeds
Conservation of oil-on-oak panels from the font cover by Emily Ford at All Souls Church, Leeds (designed by George Gilbert-Scott):
Panel before restoration
Panel after restoration
Whole font cover, after conservation
Conservation of "The Coronation of Queen Victoria" by E T Parris for Kensington Palace,