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Study completes painting restoration

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The General Lew Wallace Study & Museum is pleased to announce the completion of a conservation project to improve care of the historic Wallace book collection and five selected framed works of art. Awarded in April to the Lew Wallace Study Preservation Society for the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum, this grant was funded by the Indiana Historical Society and made possible by the Lilly Endowment Inc.

Using the results of an art assessment completed under an earlier grant, museum staff selected five framed works of art that have been on display in the Wallace Study almost continuously since the late 1890s for conservation. Museum staff also targeted the preparation of tailored book boxes for volumes that are too fragile or damaged for display. The framed artwork includes Wallace’s Military Escutcheon, a photo taken of Wallace in his Study, a watercolor of Wallace made during the Civil War, a work of art from the Middle East and a lithograph of Wallace completed in the 1880s.

The museum also received a Heritage Support Grant in 2017 that was provided by the Indiana Historical Society and made possible by the Lilly Endowment Inc. That Heritage Support Grant allowed for the restoration of the two largest paintings in the collection — The Turkish Princess and The Conspirators.

The Turkish Princess was a gift to Lew Wallace from Sultan Abdul Hamid II of the Ottoman Empire; the painting appears to be watching visitors as they move around the Study interior. The Conspirators, the largest painting done by Lew Wallace, is an iconic depiction is of the men, including John Wilkes Booth and Lewis Payne, who conspired to assassinate Abraham Lincoln and attack other members of the cabinet in 1865.

Using the results of the earlier assessment, museum staff also selected seven paintings and several frames to be restored with a grant from the Montgomery County Community Foundation in 2017. Among those paintings restored, thanks to MCCF, were two painted by Lew Wallace — Love Triumphant and Cows in the Stream.

The works selected were of critical concern because of structural issues and active deterioration. Art and frame conservators cleaned the items, repaired damage, and fully restored them. Thanks to the conservators, these iconic works have been cleaned, repaired, and fully restored so that they can be now be safely on display.

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