Giovanni Domenico Bossi, Portrait of a Lady, undated, watercolour and gouache on ivory, 6,3cm x 6,3cm, Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff Collection, Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Finnish National Gallery. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen

Editorial: Sinebrychoff’s Small Gems

Kirsi Eskelinen, PhD, Museum Director, Sinebrychoff Art Museum

 

July 14, 2016

 

The renowned art collector Paul Sinebrychoff had a special interest in portraits. He also gathered a rare collection of miniatures which, in his own time in the late 19th century, was the largest collection in Northern Europe. The collection includes about 400 pieces and is still the most important collection in Finland.

About 15 years ago, the miniatures were studied and conservation work was then carried out on them as part of a thorough renewal and restoration of the museum building of the Sinebrychoff Art Museum on Bulevardi in Helsinki. However, as is the case with every part of the collection, they need to be taken care of on a continuous basis. Now, the miniatures are being treated again. There are only a few specialists in miniature painting conservation. Dr. Bernd Pappe, who is interviewed in this issue, is a world-renowned specialist in this field, as well as an art historian. He reveals the painstaking work behind the scenes.

During the past two years special effort has been put into developing the access to the art works in Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff’s house museum. It is an essential part of the Sinebrychoff Art Museum’s new strategy to engage our audiences and generate a new kind of dialogue and encounter with the art works in the milieu of the collector’s home, which is a unique example of its kind in Finland. When visiting our website you can already have a virtual tour of the house museum or make acquaintance with Paul Sinebrychoff’s favourite portraits – his friends as he used to call them – hanging in his study.

Museum curator Reetta Kuojärvi-Närhi has studied the miniature collection. She is currently leading a project on the miniatures, which enables us to present them with a digital platform to make them more accessible and even more enjoyable and exciting to the general public.

Featured image: Giovanni Domenico Bossi, Portrait of a Lady, undated, watercolour and gouache on ivory, 6,3cm x 6,3cm, Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff Collection, Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Finnish National Gallery. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen

Jacob Axel Gillberg, Self-Portrait, 1815, watercolour and gouache on ivory, 6,2cm x 6,2cm, Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff Collection, Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Finnish National Gallery Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Janne Mäkinen

Article: Small is Beautiful

Gill Crabbe, FNG Research

 

The Sinebrychoff Art Museum has one of the finest collections of portrait miniatures in the Nordic region. Curator Reetta Kuojärvi-Närhi gives Gill Crabbe the backdrop to the conservation work that has taken place over 15 years of collaboration with the specialist conservator Bernd Pappe

Paul Sinebrychoff’s collection of miniatures, which date from the 17th to 19th centuries, originally enjoyed pride of place in the salon of his home in Bulevardi, Helsinki, which is now the Finnish National Gallery’s Sinebrychoff Art Museum. As museum curator Reetta Kuojärvi-Närhi explains, ‘They were his treasures and he started by buying two big collections of about 100 pieces each, having done his own research. Altogether, though, he collected around 400 images which are contained in more than 320 items (some miniatures contain multiple images).’ Sinebrychoff’s treasure trove has been augmented by a further 46 miniatures collected by Mikko and Mary Mannio, as well as seven miniatures acquired through other donations.

Today a selection of these miniatures is on display in a specially designed room with lighting suitable for conservation purposes and in a cabinet that enables the viewer to see the exquisite workmanship in closer detail. Much of this display has been conserved by Bernd Pappe, a leading expert in miniature conservation, who first visited the museum as an advisor 15 years ago, and then as conservator. On his most recent visit in April 2016, he has been bringing many works up to the standard required for them to go on show in the permanent exhibition. This has been part of a two-year project during which Pappe has concentrated on replacing the damaged glasses in the frames.

Featured image: Jacob Axel Gillberg, Self-Portrait, 1815, watercolour and gouache on ivory, 6,2cm x 6,2cm, Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff Collection, Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Finnish National Gallery Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Janne Mäkinen

Read More — Download ‘Small is Beautiful’ by Gill Crabbe as a PDF

Download the Full Article as a PDF >>

Bernd Pappe at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum’s specially designed room where the collection of miniatures is displayed. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Pakarinen

Article: It’s All in the Detail – Interview with Dr. Bernd Pappe

Gill Crabbe, FNG Research

 

The leading international conservator Bernd Pappe has been involved in a major conservation project at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum. Gill Crabbe meets him to find out how he has brought exquisite portrait miniatures in the collection up to display quality

Featured image: Bernd Pappe at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum’s specially designed room where the collection of miniatures is displayed. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Pakarinen

Read More — Download ‘It’s All in the Detail – Interview with Dr. Bernd Pappe’ by Gill Crabbe as a PDF

Download the Full Article as a PDF >>

To watch a video of Bernd Pappe talking about replacing weeping glasses, click here: https://vimeo.com/174356601

Peter Adolf Hall, Treasurer Johan Gottlob Brusell (1756–1829), watercolour and gouache on ivory, 8.3cm x 6.6cm, marked: Hall 1783/5. Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff Collection, Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Finnish National Gallery Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen

Article: The Enigmatic Mr Brusell

Reetta Kuojärvi-Närhi, Curator, Sinebrychoff Art Museum

 

First published in Art’s Memory – Layers of Conservation. Edited by Reetta Kuojärvi-Närhi, Maija Santala, Ari Tanhuanpää, Anne-Mari Forss. Sinebrychoffin taidemuseon julkaisuja (Sinebrychoff Art Museum Publications). Helsinki: Finnish National Gallery / Sinebrychoff Art Museum, 2005

Treasurer Johan Gottlob Brusell, by the Swedish painter Peter Adolf Hall, is one of the most valued portrait miniatures in the Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff Collection. The work is marked with an indistinct signature and the date 1783/5 on the right-hand side.

Paul Sinebrychoff bought the miniature in 1904 from his distant relatives, the Falkman family of Sweden[1]. It had been in the possession of the family for several generations. In his correspondence with Bukowski, Sinebrychoff mentioned that he was fascinated by the miniature and sent a photograph of it for evaluation. Dr. Palm, from the Bukowski auction house, thanked him cordially for the photograph and praised the beauty of the piece, noting that there was a similar painting in a Swedish collection.[2] It has since been discovered that several versions of the miniature were made[3], which begs the question, why so many versions?

When Paul Sinebrychoff bought the miniature, it was presumed to be a portrait of Carl Michael Bellman, Sweden’s national poet, which would explain the numerous versions. The questions of whether the subject is of similar appearance and age as Bellman and whether or not Hall and Bellman ever met, remained unanswered for decades. The truth was not revealed until the early 1900s as the result of research by the Danish art historian Torben Holck Colding[4]. The subject proved to be Johan Gottlob Brusell, as indicated by an inscription discovered on the reverse of a miniature in a collection in Copenhagen. Written in ink, the text read: ‘Kamereraren vid Museum Brusells portrait målad af Hall i Paris’ (‘Portrait of Museum Treasurer Brusell painted by Hall in Paris’). This attribution is confirmed by the fact that Johan Brusell had visited Paris around 1783. There has never been any doubt regarding the artist. The miniature is an example of Peter Adolf Hall’s work at its most typical and is one of his best works.

[1] Carlén 1861. Provenance attributed to the clothing merchant Carl Ahrens 1861 is uncertain.
[2] This was in the collection of the wholesaler Setterwall. The work was kept in the family, and is known to have been in Gothenburg in 1950.
[3] At least seven different works are known.
[4] Colding 1950, 145–50.

Featured image: Peter Adolf Hall, Treasurer Johan Gottlob Brusell (1756–1829), watercolour and gouache on ivory, 8.3cm x 6.6cm, marked: Hall 1783/5. Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff Collection, Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Finnish National Gallery
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen

Read More — Download ‘The Enigmatic Mr Brusell’ by Reetta Kuojärvi-Närhi as a PDF

Download the Full Article as a PDF >>

Article: Touch Wood – Rescuing Rare Panel Paintings

Gill Crabbe, FNG Research

 

An international expert on the conservation of panel paintings has led a groundbreaking workshop at Sinebrychoff Art Museum, where participants rolled up their sleeves to restore some of Finland’s national treasures

Workshop at Sinebrychoff Art Museum
Wood Panel Workshop at Sinebrychoff Art Museum. Arne Rannaoja and Jean-Albert Glatigny repair the upper section of Madonna and Child Enthroned. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Pirje Mykkänen

 

In the vaulted White Cellar in the basement of the Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Helsinki, a dozen or so conservators – many from museums across Finland, and including Tannar Ruuben, the paintings conservation lecturer at the city’s Metropolia University of Applied Sciences – are gathered around a table, peering at the back of a 17th-century wood panel painting. The table is specially made for the highly sensitive work of restoring and conserving rare works of art painted on wood. The clamping table, as it is known, has been constructed by Jean-Albert Glatigny, Conservator at the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage in Brussels, who is considered to be the world expert on restoring wood panel paintings. He is here to lead a 10-day practical workshop sharing his expertise in the structural stabilisation of these works with a new generation of conservators, passing on his knowledge in this highly skilled field. The clamping table he has brought with him from Brussels is used to glue splits in the panels and to repair joints with a high degree of precision. Tannar Ruuben was so impressed by it that he decided to buy it for his conservation department.

The workshop has come about as a result of the Getty Panel Painting Initiative, an ongoing project that aims to increase specialised training in the structural conservation of panel paintings and to advance the treatment of these works in collections around the world. The project was brought to the attention of Kirsi Eskelinen, the Sinebrychoff Art Museum’s Director, when in 2010 she met Prof. Jorgen Wadum, keeper of conservation and director of the Centre for Art Technological Studies and Conservation (CATS) at Denmark’s National Gallery, who was involved in the Getty initiative. At that time Eskelinen was head of collections at the Serlachius Museum in Mänttä and had been seeking guidance on the repair of the 16th-century panel attributed to the studio of the Flemish painter Quentin Matsys, Madonna with Cherries which, she says, ‘was actually in two pieces’. Wadum visited Mänttä to advise on how best to proceed with its restoration and, says Eskelinen, ‘he asked us if we need this kind of specialist knowledge throughout Finland’.

Five years on, and in her new position at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Eskelinen’s response remains unequivocal. ‘I want to generate more co-operation in the field of research and care of the Old Masters collections across Finland. As a museum specialising in this area the Finnish National Gallery is keen to develop and share its expertise.’

Read More — Download ‘Touch Wood – Rescuing Rare Panel Paintings’ as a PDF

Download the Full Article as a PDF >>

See the video of the Sinebrychoff Art Museum workshop by clicking on the link below

https://youtu.be/54Mw1BGTJNU

Anna Rapinoja, Autumn Party Shoes, 2010, made from northern bilberry leaves, from the series ‘Wardrobe of Nature’, 2005–11, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Pirje Mykkänen.

Article: Physical Phenomena and Natural Materials – The Challenges in Collection Management

Eija Aarnio, Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Finnish National Gallery

 

First published in Kiasma Hits. Kiasma Collections. A Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma Publication 139/2013. Edited by Arja Miller & Joni Kling. Helsinki 2013: Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, 60–71. Transl. Tomi Snellman

Art research has not always placed a particularly high value on materiality. Matter was seen primarily as a substratum through which meanings were read. However, the separation of matter and idea is no longer considered a realistic approach in the understanding of the processes of art. Art historian Katve-Kaisa Kontturi even claims that no image or representation can be interpreted or would even exist without the material-bodily processes of art making and reception.[1]

Anni Rapinoja’s Wardrobe of Nature (2005–11) consists of hats and handbags made of cotton grass and common reed, complete with sumptuous fur coats and matching shoes made of willow or northern bilberry leaves. Peering into the handbag, you find it is filled with elk droppings. Rapinoja lives on the island of Hailuoto in Oulu, where she collects these sensitive materials for her work. The inhabitants of the island know her and her working methods. Hunters are in the habit of bringing her the ears and tails of rabbits they have caught, which the artist keeps in cake boxes while she waits for inspiration.

Timo Heino’s Dialogue (2005) is made of synthetic and organic elements – car tyres, metal chains and human hair. With hair cascading towards the floor from their centres, the rubber tyres are like a row of chandeliers hanging at different heights. Processing has transformed real hair into an almost unnatural substance. The threadbare tyres are recycled material. The artist wants to blur the aesthetic of materials and the narrow categorisations and rigid oppositions typical of Western culture.

[1] In her study, Katve-Kaisa Kontturi emphasises a neo-materialist approach in which a bodily experience of art can also be part of critical research. Katve-Kaisa Kontturi, Following the flows of process: a new materialist account of contemporary art, University of Turku, Turku, 2012, 22–24.

Featured image: Anna Rapinoja, Autumn Party Shoes, 2010, made from northern bilberry leaves, from the series ‘Wardrobe of Nature’, 2005–11, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Pirje Mykkänen

Read More — Download ‘Physical Phenomena and Natural Materials – The Challenges in Collection Management’ by Eija Aarnio as a PDF

Download the Full Article as a PDF >>