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Thursday June 16th 2016

The work of WUDPAC Fellow Gerritt Albertson was recently featured in a Philadelphia Inquirer story about the surprising secret hidden beneath a painting by Susan Macdowell Eakins.

From the online story, entitled "Is an Eakins hiding an Eakins?: Painting, mystery, detective story," by staff writer John Timpane: 

What if one Eakins is hiding another Eakins? The Bibliophile is a painting by Susan Macdowell Eakins, wife of the celebrated Philadelphia painter Thomas Eakins. An accomplished painter, Susan had studied with Thomas at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts.The Bibliophile is in the collection at Bryn Mawr College. Now a graduate student in the Winterthur/University of Delaware program in art conservation has detected, beneath the surface, a separate painting. . . . Gerrit Albertson is a graduate student at the Winterthur/University of Delaware program in art conservation. He’s actually a second-generation conservator: His mother, Rita Albertson, is the chief conservator at the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts. As part of the graduate program, students must study paintings that may have challenges for conservation. Among three paintings he studied in his second year, Albertson got The Bibliophile. It came from Marianne Weldon, collections manager for the art and artifact collections at Bryn Mawr College, where The Bibliophile lives. Joyce Stoner, a professor in the Winterthur/University of Delaware program, says Weldon also mentioned “there was a legend attached to the painting that there’s an unfinished painting underneath” associated with Eakins. Albertson went to work, first doing old-fashioned, look-it-up research. He found two sources that said the canvas for The Bibliophile was originally Thomas Eakins’.

​To read the full story, click here. Images: "The Bibliophile," a 1932 painting by Susan Macdowell Eakins, is painted over an unfinished portrait of a man (courtesy of the Bryn Mawr College Special Collections Department); spectroscopic imagery shows that beneath the seated reader, there is an unfinished, sketchy-looking painting of a half-length male figure; the head is clearly visible (courtesy of John Delaney and John Delaney and Kate Dooley, National Gallery of Art).

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The work of WUDPAC Fellow Gerritt Albertson was recently featured in a Philadelphia Inquirer story about the surprising secret hidden beneath a painting by Susan Macdowell Eakins.

​The work of WUDPAC Fellow Gerritt Albertson was recently featured in a Philadelphia Inquirer story about the surprising secret hidden beneath a painting by Susan Macdowell Eakins.

6/16/2016
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  • The Department of Art Conservation
  • 303 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-3489
  • art-conservation@udel.edu