Restored Art - The Conservation & Unveiling of Two Rare Paintings
Preserving local heritage and making it accessible to the public is the mission of the Green Bay and De Pere Antiquarian Society. Over the past few years this active non-profit, charitable organization** has embarked upon several ambitious projects that have taken the organization around the world.
One of these projects is the Cultural Heritage Community Campaign. With the help of many volunteers and private donors, this undertaking allowed the Green Bay & Antiquarian Society to raise the necessary $1.2 million dollars necessary to purchase historical artwork and artifacts significant to Wisconsin, the local Green Bay community, and American history.
It is from these American artifacts and art works (the "Heritage Collection") that two rare paintings were discovered and ultimately restored and conserved: the Rufus B. Kellogg portrait, and the painting that was known as "Hospitality/The Prodigal Son" (the correct name is revealed below).
The stories, origins, and histories of these valuable art pieces was told (as much as is possible to date), during an exciting unveiling event held October 8, 2010, at the Neville Public Museum in Green Bay. Entitled, "The Extraordinary Unveiling of the Conserved Paintings of Rufus B. Kellogg & Hospitality/The Prodigal Son," this exciting event was hosted by the Green Bay & De Pere Antiquarian Society, in partnership with the Neville Public Museum. Associated Bank sponsored the event.
Recent Art Discoveries Connect Green Bay to Europe
Led by Master of Ceremonies and Art Conservationist, Anton ("Tony") Rajer, the historical unveiling event revealed the significance of the paintings to both Wisconsin history and the international art world, and the connections between Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Europe.
Read below and follow the links to learn how these beautiful paintings connect Green Bay to two renowned artists - George P. A. Healy (1813-1894) and Cristofano Allori (Italy: 1527-1621).
For more on the unveiling event and restoration process, including pictures, videos and related news stories, follow these links:
RUFUS B. KELLOGG PAINTING - (*For more details, read here: Kellogg Provenance & here: Kellogg/Healy Synopsis)
Thousands of us drive past Associated Banks everyday, but little do we realize that the bank’s founder, Rufus B. Kellogg (1837-1891) also gave us the public library, and a street on Green Bay’s west side.
Kellogg did, in fact, found what is now Associated Bank Green Bay, formally known as the Kellogg Bank, and funded the library that evolved into the Brown County Library. Although the bank which he founded over 135 years ago and the library no longer bear his name, their continued growth and presence in the community are testament to Mr. Kellogg’s early influence. He was truly a Renaissance Man with a variety of interests and an overriding concern for the well being of the community he called home. He promoted education, literacy and thrift.
Kellogg commissioned the American artist George P. A. Healy (1813-1894 ) to paint his portrait in Paris, France in 1887. Imbued with the spirit of 19th century Paris, the regal portrait shows Kellogg as a successful businessman reading the French newspaper Le Figaro and seated in an ornate green chair, dressed in 19th century business attire.
Healy was a distinguished American portrait painter known for his ability to capture a likeness of the sitter. Winner of several silver medals at exhibits in Europe, he maintained studios in Paris, New York and Chicago. Among his notable portraits was that of President Lincoln, President Grant and Pope Pius IX.
This painting was conserved by Tony Rajer in 2010 through the generous support of Associated Bank-Green Bay and is on loan at the downtown bank branch for public viewing.
HOSPITALITY/PRODIGAL SON PAINTING - (*For more details, read here: Hall Provenance*& here: Hospitality/Allori Synopsis)
Another recently discovered masterpiece is the Hospitality. Here’s the exciting story about this antique picture and how it got from Italy to Green Bay.
For nine decades the painting hung at the Brown County Public library without a label. In 2007 through a community sponsored effort the Green Bay & De Pere Antiquarian Society purchased the painting along with other important historic items in order to keep them in the community.
The Society immediately launched a project to identify and conserve the huge ornate painting. This included writing letters to all the major art museums in America and Europe. Now after three years of work the identity of the painting is known.
The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. correctly identified the rare picture as a version of the famed “Hospitality of St. Julian” from the Pitti Palace in Florence, Italy. The 17th century Italian painter Cristofano Allori (1527-1621) created this popular painting that tells the story of Christ and Saint Julian, who committed the crime of slaying his parents and Christ forgave him. In 1909 local Hotel owner Frederic G.Hall bought the Green Bay version in New York. He brought it to our city and his estate gave it to the library in 1917.
We now have a new appreciation for this work as a result of conservation by the late Art Conservator Tony Rajer and the generous assistance of Bellin Hospital Radiology Department, who x-rayed the painting to find lost inscriptions. So far none have been found, but we are still looking and are in contact with the Pitti Palace in Florence regarding our painting and theirs.
It is on loan and can be viewed at the Bishop Wycislo Center,St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, downtown Green bay.The Antiquarian Society is deeply indebted to the many donors, and especially those that so generously supported the purchase, cleaning, publication and care of these unique artistic treasures.
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**The Green Bay & De Pere Antiquarian Society is a 501c3 charitable organization accepting gifts, bequests and donations that support our mission "To hold, purchase, preserve and acquire antiquities and real estate to perpetuate the history of the locality surrounding Green Bay and the State of Wisconsin".
Green Bay & De Pere Antiquarian Society Inc.
P.O. Box 875
Green Bay, Wisconsin 54305-0875