Her graceful expression and clever use of accessories (blue ribbon belt, blue shawl, blue earrings) had me in a "What an elegant lady! Who must she have been?" happy dance. I pinned her, and went sometimes back checking on the auction, silently counting my centimes and hoping against all reason that the lady would still be there when I managed to save the sum to buy her miniature. A couple of days later, she was gone. I was sad, but shrugged it off, there are so many beautiful things at Mr Bays Emporium, one day I might find something what captures me equally.
About 2 weeks later, a Saturday morning when the mailman called my husband to sign for a parcel. When he returned, he handed me the package, and said "I believe, this is for you".
Lo and behold:
|It's her! The Lady with the Blue Shawl!|
Thanks to the sweetest husband of all, there was this lovely painting in our home.
You may notice, that the upper right corner is clouded. So did I: for the last couple of months I tried to figure out, if it's but the glass, or the wafer. And if it's just the glass, is it scratches or dirt? Would I damage the wafer?
Today I took up all my courage, and started loosening the already torn paper on the back.
|Backside, before carefully cutting|
away the paper
|The paper was already so frail, |
that it tore away without much help.
It's the glass! It's just the glass. And the grime was easily giving way to gentle cleaning with cotton wool and water!
And while I was cleaning the glass, I took the chance to take some pictures of Madame Ne m'oubliez Pas (Mrs Forget-me-Not, due to the shade of blue) without the glass.
|She's undamaged, it was just the glass!|
|The wafer has been damaged a little bit, you see the missing sliver on the left |
side, and the piece of painted ivory below it, on the newspaper.
|The cleaned glass on a newspaper reprint of March 1814|
Apart from the little bubbles and imperfection from it's making, it's clean and flawless. Fitting the well dried glass back into it's frame was a tad fiddlier, it's not quite symmetrical, and only fits in one way.
I finished the repair by glueing some replica printed paper from the Basel Historical Museum onto the back. When all is dry, Mme Ne m'oubliez-pas will find a place among some 1792 prints by Angelika Kauffman and some gravures of Journal des Dames.
I am still insanely happy that it was just a dirty glass, and not a damaged painting!
|The new backing, and the penknife I used to loosen the old paper.|
|In the cleaned frame|
|Modern helpers: paper tissues, Q-tips, clean water, scissors to cut the new backing.|
Many thanks again to my most generous and sweet husband. And also to Sabine for the newspaper, what gave me a nice surface to see if the cleaning is effective. (One could also use a modern paper, but it was more fun and inspirational to use a 1814 reprin