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NA.202.394 - Beaded hat. Seth's favorite!
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Gift of Dr. Armand Hammer and Charles Stone Jones.
This wax sculpture recently received conservation treatment. The photograph shows the poor condition of Lunch Hour before treatment. The surface of the piece had developed a brown discharge that made it appear that the sculpture was melting.
The conservation project revealed that the problems of the appearance of this sculpture were very complex. Russell made this sculpture suing a piece of found wood for the tree and beeswax to model the bear family. The sculpture was part of the Russell family collection and was never cast in bronze in Russell's lifetime. After the death of his wife, Nancy Cooper Russell, the bulk of their estate was acquired by a collector, H.E. Britzman, who had many of the wax sculptures cast into bronze.
Research by Rick Stewart of the Amon Carter Museum uncovered documentation that Russell's waxes were altered during the casting process. The documentation included information about the original appearance of this sculpture. It showed that Russell had made the large bear's claws from pieces of tin and that the wood stump had deep hollow areas. These details are not evident in the bronze casts.
Examination of the sculpture showed that material had been added to Russell's original sculpture. Plasticine, a modeling clay, was used to fill in parts of the sculpture, probably to make it easier to cast. Plasticine, a less stable material than beeswax, caused the brown discharge on the surface. Conservator Glenn Wharton, in consultation with Whitney Gallery curator Sarah Boehme and conservator Beverly Perkins, cleaned the sculpture by hand and with solvents where appropriate. The plasticine, which was not part of the original sculpture, was removed, revealing the tin claws, the shape of the wood, and Russell's delicate coloring. The work of art was restored to appear as close as possible to Russell's original conception.
Restrictions: Model not to be sold, loaned, used for the purpose of casting bronzes, or used for the making of any reproductions whatsoever. Source: Charles Jones (1/4 interest, 1959) and Armand Hammer (3/4 interest, 12-63)
As of 06-14-2017 this object is on display in the Whitney Western Art Museum. If you are making a special trip, please double-check before visiting.