Barry Bauman, Restoration Artist and Detective, Dies at 73

by AryanArtnews
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For thirty years, the Governor’s residence in Springfield, Illinois was adorned with a portrait of Mary Todd Lincoln. Mrs. Lincoln is said to have asked the famous painter Francis Bicknell Carpenter, who lived in the White House for six months in 1864, to paint it. As a gift to her husband, President Abraham Lincoln.

After the assassination of Lincoln, the story continued, and the distraught and poor First Lady asked Mr. Carpenter to dispose of his work.

Decades later, this historic, behind-the-scenes portrait was sold to the descendants of Lincoln. They took it to Barry Baumann, an independent restorer trained at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2011, for cleaning.

After decades of removing dirt and dirt, Baumann discovered that the painting was fake.

After stripping off the layers, I found a portrait of an anonymous woman whose image was significantly modified to look like Mrs. Lincoln. Mr. Carpenter was not involved at all. His forged signature is drawn on top of the original varnish, indicating that it was later applied. Also added was a brooch containing an image of Lincoln based on a photo that his widow hated — and probably she didn’t wear it for her own portrait.

Working with curators at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Mr. Baumann determined that the entire story of the source of the painting was made to withdraw money from Lincoln’s family.

The discovery of the fraud became a national headline, and the painting on the cover of Carl Sandburg’s “Mary Lincoln: Wife and Widow” (1932) lost an estimated $ 300,000 at the time.

Baumann, who has made various achievements in the field of rare art restoration, died on February 5 at his home in Riverside, Illinois. He was 73 years old. His wife, Mary Baumann, said the cause was heart failure.

As a guardian, Mr. Baumann was part of a detective, exposing hidden layers, discovering fakes, and finding lost signatures. In most cases, he returned the faded canvas to his original glory. This is similar to the oil painting “Apollo and Venus” by the 16th century Dutch master Otto van Vane found in an old warehouse.

“Preservation of paintings can sometimes be the subject of a drama,” Baumann told a newspaper at Iowa State University in 2015. Chinese boxes, layers of meaning, are sometimes obscured, mysterious, and distorted. “

After establishing his position as a guardian, Baumann built an exceptional career in his mid-50s. He decided to donate restoration services to a non-profit organization that couldn’t afford to properly manage the treasure. In about 15 years, he has provided an estimated $ 6 million worth of work to more than 300 museums, organizations and historic houses.

“Sometimes I hear people say,’I love my job. I’ll do it for free,'” he told Inside Iowa State University. “That’s the usual way for me. I’ve always loved what I’m doing.”

He was working for free when he discovered the Lincoln scam. The painting remains in the Lincoln Library and Museum collections. There, Lincoln historian Christian McWalter said in an interview that when the painting was exhibited, it was accompanied by an explanation of the fraud.

“I like to show it, because it’s a historic relic with a great story,” he said.

Barry Robert Baumann was born on April 9, 1948 in Syracuse, New York, to Dr. Stewart and Edina Baumann. His father was the director of obstetrics at Syracuse Hospital. His mother was a housewife.

Baumann happened to be interested in art. He played basketball at Beloit University in Wisconsin and had to find a class that wouldn’t interfere with his practice. Art history fits the bill. To Mr. Baumann’s surprise, the teacher was so good that he fell in love with the subject — he wanted to major in it. However, Beloit did not offer such a measure. He majored in geography instead and learned about New Zealand’s temperate climate. When someone grew up on a snow belt, he often dreamed of warm weather and put a visit to New Zealand on his distant bucket list.

After graduating in 1969, Baumann earned a master’s degree in art history from the University of Chicago in 1971, where he specialized in Baroque painting in the Netherlands.

He then asked if he could do a nature maintenance internship at the Art Institute of Chicago. Alfred Jaxtas, a well-known chief guardian there, said that the Institute of Arts could only benefit from his investment in training if he promised to stay for 10 years. Baumann, who had to take an additional college chemistry course to qualify, eventually stayed for 11 years and became a quasi-guardian.

Like many of his professions, he also worked personally for clients on the side. One is the artist Mary Burke, who brought two of her damaged paintings. They got married in 1984.

In addition to his wife, he has survived by two sons, Ian and Jeff, and two sisters, Netchiking and Sharon Colton.

After starting to earn more from his private work than his work at the Art Institute, Baumann decides to set up a company to serve small private organizations that don’t have the best greenhouse facilities budget. did.

With the support of Marshall Field V, a descendant of a prominent Chicago retailer, he founded the Chicago Conservation Center in 1983. He worked on projects such as the restoration of 172 paintings damaged by the flood at the Chicago History Museum and the preservation of hundreds of dollars. A mural from the Works Progress Administration for the Chicago School System. Now simply called the Conservation Center, the company is proud to be the largest private arts conservation institute in the country.

Baumann sold his business in 2003 and began another Barry Baumann protection the following year, restoring items for free for a small nonprofit organization. While he donated his workforce, he managed his clothes by charging the agency the cost of materials and the cost of shipping items, which was negligible. He has restored more than 1,500 paintings.

After the back surgery made the repair work more difficult, he gave a lecture and focused on helping the museum apply for a grant.

Meanwhile, Baumann continued to grow his college dream of visiting New Zealand one day. Finally, in 1996 he and his wife went. While there, he came up with the news that he wanted to buy her real estate that day. He tried, but the deal was unsuccessful. He then returned home shortly afterwards and purchased 26 acres of oceanfront real estate on the Coromandel Peninsula on the North Island. In 2009, he and his wife built a log house there, which became a hideout for his family from the winter in Chicago.

“He realized this dream he had when he was 20 years old,” said his son Ian. “There was nothing left on his list that he didn’t do. He took it all in.”

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