2022-2023 Norfolk Society of Arts | Lecture 3 | Mark Tucker

Mind the Gap: The Challenge of Altered Paintings

Mark Tucker is the Neubauer Family Director of Conservation at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. As the museum’s head paintings conservator between 1985-2015, he oversaw preservation and restoration of the museum’s renowned collection of paintings dating from the 12th century to the present, as well as the historical and technical research on which conservation practice is based.

A frequent collaborator with other scholars on research, treatment, and exhibition projects, he has published and lectured extensively on the conservation and art history of European and American paintings. He is particularly expert on paintings by the American master Thomas Eakins, having led numerous research and treatment projects, including the restoration of The Gross Clinic, the artist’s masterpiece. He co-organized the exhibition to debut the restored painting, and subsequently co-authored the book An Eakins Masterpiece Restored: Seeing “The Gross Clinic” Anew. In his presentation, Mr. Tucker explores a conservator’s look at how paintings change over time, and the challenges of discovering and recovering qualities of original appearance and effect. He will share examples of the gap that opens up between how a painting looked as the fresh, pure expression of the artist’s will and how it comes to look due to alterations over time and the basic challenge of art conservation and the satisfactions that come with better understanding what we see when we look at paintings.

Mark Tucker, The Neubauer Family Director of Conservation, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Mark Tucker working on Mermaid (1896) by Edvard Munch.
Oil on canvas, 39 ½ inches × 18 feet 1 ½ inches (100.3 × 552.5 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Accession number 20031-1
Gift of Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson

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