Top right: The Sewall-Belmont description of the restored painting of Inez Milholland Boissevain. (To enlarge the thumbnail images, click on them.) The artist's name, uncovered during restoration, appears to be "Kory".
Bottom right, L to R: John Houser, Manager, Occoquan Regional Park, site of the future Turning Point Suffragist Memorial; his daughter Elaina Houser, with the staff of Sen. Al Franken; and Virginia State Senator George Barker. Photo by Jane Barker, a member of the Committee to Restore the Inez Painting.
L to R: John F. Karl, Jr., E. Tyna Coles and John Tepper Marlin at the Sewall-Belmont reopening, May 19. Karl and Coles are members of the Committee to Restore the Inez Painting; Marlin is Secretary.
Jane Barker with the restored painting. She leads the effort to create the Turning Point Suffrage Memorial and is a member of the Committee to Restore the Inez Painting.
Top: Eric Robins, Attorney and Economist, Washington, DC. Member of the Committee to Restore the Inez Painting.
Bottom: Photo of Inez at the 1913 Woman Suffrage Parade in Washington, DC. This is one of the photos that is likely to have been a model for the painting of Inez, which was apparently by someone named Kory after Inez's death in 1916. See comments on the parade next the picture of the program immediately below the brief history of the House that follows; also, see additional photos.
Brief History of the Sewall-Belmont House.
The Sewall-Belmont House has a uniquely rich history. The land on which it was built is a tiny potion of a huge tract granted to the second Lord Baltimore, son of the founder of Maryland, by King Charles I of England. The Oxford-educated Calvert men who became the Lords Baltimore wanted to create a haven for Catholics and others seeking religious freedom.
A significant piece of the land was acquired by Daniel Carroll, who donated much of it to the newly independent United States as a home for its new capital. Carroll retained a piece of land for himself. In 1799 he sold this land to Robert Sewall, who built the main house in 1800. The house was attached to a one-room farmhouse that, the National Park Service suggests, might date from 1750. The house was owned by Sewall descendants until after World War I.
In 1922 , Senator Porter H. Dale of Vermont bought the house and seven years later he sold it to the National Woman's Party (NWP) for its fifth headquarters. (When the NWP decided to picket the White House in January 1917, they were conveniently located across Lafayette Square, from which replacement picketers and banners would emerge.) The name Belmont was added to Sewall's in naming the house because of the enormous generosity of Alva Vanderbilt Belmont in funding the NWP. The museum of the Sewall-Belmont House contains Susan B. Anthony's desk and the iconic painting of Inez Milholland on her horse. When the Hart Senate Office Building was built, the Sewall-Belmont House was left undisturbed in one corner.
The goals of the 2010-2011 reconstruction and restoration of the Sewall-Belmont House were multiple and somewhat conflicting. - Some basic modernization and repair tasks were unavoidable, including compliance with laws relating to access for the handicapped. - The decaying interior of the house was restored with proper respect for the history of the house and its contents. Lighter colors were used for the decor, to brighten up the appearance. - Finally, the renovation was used as an opportunity to make more accessible through displays the important banners and photographs that had been accumulated by the National Woman’s Party, with view to increasing the educational role of the Museum.
More than three times as much of the Museum collection is now on display compared with the pre-renovation. If the mix before the renovation was 70% House and 30% Museum, the building is now more like 45% House and 55% Museum.
After a year’s worth of construction and restoration, the results are now on display and it was a great opening. There was palpable sense of progress in the air. The renovation has made the space more attractive and more of an educational experience. The only thing remaining to do is to install interactive stations to provide history puzzles for visiting students. Sample question: "Which of the following was NOT at the Seneca Falls Woman's Convention in 1848? A. Elizabeth Cady Stanton. B. Lucretia Mott. C. Susan B. Anthony. D. Frederick Douglass." The planned Tivia Evening could generate material for such a station.
The members of the Committee for the Restoration of the Inez Painting in attendance included Jane Barker, E. Tyna Coles, Page Harrington, Nayantara Hensel, John Karl, John Tepper Marlin, and Eric Robins. The President of the Sewall-Belmont House, Dianne Chasen Lipsey, spoke first, opening with thanks to contributors to the painting restoration and many other contributors. Then the Executive Director, Page Harrington, spoke, thanking by name all of the staff and contractors who had a part in the renovation.
Committee to Restore the Inez Painting
Under co-chairs Al Boissevain and Allegra Milholland, the Committee raised $4,000 to restore the portrait of Inez Milholland Boissevain on the main floor of theSewall-Belmont House and Museum. Givers to the Restoration of the Inez Milholland Painting include: Jane Barker, Al Boissevain (major gift), Annie Boissevain, Jane Boissevain, Frederick Boissevain, Boissevain Books, Tom de Booij, Eleanor Clift, E. Tyna Coles, Bob Drago, Elsie Gutchess, Anne Hale Johnson, Alice and John Tepper Marlin, Brigid Marlin, Olivia and Allegra Milholland, Barbara Page, Marlene Rehkamp, Calvin Tomkins II. The funds were raised by the 2010 deadline to have the painting restored. A new target for year-end 2011 target is $3,000, for improved lighting of the painting. As of May 19, $100 has been received toward the 2011 target along with pledges of $300.
Gifts to the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum are deductible from U.S.-taxable income; it is a 501-c-3 tax-exempt charity. Checks should be sent to Page Harrington, Sewall-Belmont House, 144 Constitution Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002-5608. Please note on the check: "Inez Portrait Lighting Fund, 2011." For updates, go to the campaign page here.
Al Boissevain, Committee Co-Chair, Nephew of Inez Milholland and Eugen Boissevain - and believed to be the sole surviving grandchild of Charles Boissevain and Emily MacDonnell Boissevain. He resides near his daughter Claire Boissevain in Bloomington, IN.
Annie Boissevain, Great-Niece of Eugen Boissevain and Manager of Big Shot Communications, Portland, ME. Ben Boissevain, 2nd Cousin of Eugen Boissevain and Managing Partner, Agile Equity, New York, NY. Claire Boissevain, RN, Great-Niece of Eugen Boissevain, Bloomington, IN.
Eleanor Clift, Author, Founding Sisters and the Nineteenth Amendment (Wiley 2003), Washington, DC. E. Tyna Coles, Senior Analyst, Homeland Security Institute, Arlington, VA. Attended the May 19 reopening.
Robert Drago, Research Director, International Women's Policy Research, Washington, DC.
Linda Cunningham Goldstein, Former Executive Director of the Woodlawn Plantation and Frank Lloyd Wright's Pope-Leighey House in Mount Vernon, Virginia and Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Interpretation and Design Committee. Phyllis Eckhaus, author of article on Inez Milholland's acceptance by the Harvard Law School faculty in 1909 and her rejection by the HLS Administration, in Harvard Magazine (November-December 1994), New York, NY.
Riva Freifeld, Producer, PBS Feature Documentary, "Annie Oakley", New York, NY. Elsie Gutchess, Town Historian, Dryden, NY. Page Harrington, Executive Director, Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, Washington, DC. Presided over the reopening of the Sewall-Belmont House on May 19.
Nayantara Hensel, Chief Economist, U.S. Navy. Attended the reopening on May 19.
John F.Karl, Jr., Attorney, Washington, DC. Attended the reopening on May 19.
Linda Lumsden, Prof. of Journalism, Univ. of Arizona, and Author of Inez: The Life and Times of Inez Milholland, Tucson, AZ. Brigid Marlin, Great-Niece of Eugen Boissevain and Chair, Society for Art of Imagination, Berkhamsted, Herts., UK. Alice Tepper Marlin, President, Social Accountability International, New York, NY. Spoke the lines of Californian Maud Younger eulogizing Inez MIlholland, in the 1998 staged reading in Rochester, NY of "Take Up the Song". John Tepper Marlin, Great-Nephew of Eugen Boissevain and Author of "Take Up the Song", New York, NY and Washington, DC. Secretary of the Committee. Attended the reopening on May 19.
Allegra Milholland, Committee Co-Chair, Great-niece of Inez Milholland and Attorney, Raleigh, NC.
Olivia Milholland, Niece of Inez Milholland (married to the son of Inez Milholland's brother John), now living in the Barnstable area, MA.
Lindsay Pontius, Museum Educator, Adirondack History Center Museum, Essex County Historical Society, Elizabethtown, NY, and Director in 2000 of a staged reading of "Take Up the Song," featuring Inez Milholland and other suffragists, in the church at Lewis, NY, where Inez Milholland is buried (she was born in Brooklyn). (Inez's widower Eugen is buried in Austerlitz, NY next to his second wife, Edna St. Vincent Millay.) Marlene Rehkamp, National Board Member, League of Women Voters, Wellesley, MA.
Eric I. Robins, Attorney, Williams & Jensen Washington, DC. Attended the reopening on May 19.
Amy Jan Simon, Actress, President, She's History, Los Angeles, CA. Calvin Tomkins, Childhood Neighbor and Friend of the Milhollands and Staff Writer (since 1960) for The New Yorker, New York, NY.
The cover of the original program shows the National Woman's Party (i.e., Alice Paul's) concept of what Inez Milholland would wear when she showed up in Washington in March, 1913. Inez interpreted the concept in her own way. Alice P. was initially distressed when she saw Inez's outfit, but the New York Times report on the parade led off with Inez's stunning appearance at the head of the parade. There is some evidence that without her commanding and determined equestrian skills - learned on the family estate in Lewis, NY and in London - the parade might never have gotten past the anti-suffrage male onlookers and an understaffed (and look-the-other-way) police force. Troops were eventually called in to maintain order as some men became increasingly hostile and violent.
L to R: Nayantara Hensel, the Navy's chief economist and a member of the Committee to Restore the Inez Painting, and John Tepper Marlin, secretary of the Committee.
Portrait Restoration Plan Originally Proposed 2007; Funded 2010
Restoration Plan 2007, rev. 2010, from the Artex Con- servation Laboratory
This painting was examined in the ARTEX Conservation Laboratory in Landover, Maryland in February
2007. A condition report and treatment proposal were submitted to the client on March 15, 2007. ARTEX
was contacted on January 19, 2010 in order to initiate treatment of this painting. The original Conservation
Condition Report was revised slightly as presented below.
A poster (approximately 11" x 9" in size), was produced and circulated by the National Women's Party
after Inez Milholland Boissevain's death in 1916. The design of this poster was probably based on the
painting belonging to the Sewall Belmont House & Museum (ACL 07-006). Inez is mounted on a
white horse and carries a white banner that reads: FORWARDINTO LIGHT. She carried this banner
when she led the Suffrage procession in Washington, DC on March 3, 1913. The phrase depicted on
the banner became the Women's Party official motto, and the tricolors, purple, white and gold, as
depicted in the painting, are the party's colors.
Summary of Condition:The painting shows evidence of past mounting techniques and past
restoration campaigns. Original paint layers are covered by layers of grime and other coating
materials that are uneven and disfigure the image. Overpaint on the banner is actively flaking.
There are old flaked losses in the bronze paint along the bottom, some of which have been
overpainted and some of which are more recent and actively flaking.
Materials, Construction, and Condition
Original support: The painting has been executed on a paperboard support. The support
is slightly warped, most noticeably along the left side where the board bows outward.
The support is very acidic and degraded. There is a small loss to the support in the bottom right corner which can be seen with the
painting is in its frame. The old tack holes along the outer left and right edges are evidence of past mounting techniques
and possibly evidence of past history of use. There are several dents in the support and paint layers located on the horse's neck, the woman's stomach, and proper left hand, and in the purple background at left by the horse's tail. On the verso, there are associated lines and numbers, drawn with pencil, which seem to be perspective studies. The number 2235 is drawn in pencil and circled on the top right of the verso. The verso exhibits dents, scratches, gouges, stains and unidentified residues. Small black circular marks on the bottom of the verso possibly could be old stains from mold. The support is held into the frame with numerous rusted nails. What looks to be a white preparation layer can be seen in a flaked
loss under the bronze paint at bottom. However, no preparation layer can be discerned
Paint layers:The oil paint is rich and has been applied varyingly fluid or paste-like
with areas of low impasto. The figure's face exhibits a fine craquelure. Next to where
the pole of the banner rests by the figure's leg, there appears to be a pentimento of
another position for the pole. There is a localized cluster of small holes in the paint
film on the horse's proper right front shoulder under the decorative strap on the horse.
The purple paint of the background has a slight pebbly appearance when viewed in raking
light. Glimpses of the original bright and translucent purple paint of the background can
be seen among tiny circular splatters of thin opaque overpaint and opaque areas of varnish.
The bronze paint around the outer edges appears to be a later paint campaign. Traces of
another brighter and more orange bronze layer can be seen around some of the letters.
A 3/8" x 3/16" loss to paint layers (located 23" from the left and 5" from the bottom)
reveals an even earlier and lighter gold colored layer that may be gilding. The latest
layer of bronze paint has been applied somewhat unevenly, most noticeable at top
right and bottom left.
Overpaint has been liberally applied around the letters on the banner. The overpaint
appears old and it may have been applied to cover past losses or to refine or change
the lettering. This overpaint is darkened, cracked, and flaking. Paint layers underneath
the flaking overpaint appear dirty, indicating some time passed before the overpaint
was applied. What appear to be early flaked losses on the gold border directly under
the horse's feet have been overpainted with a dark bronze paint that appears greenish,
possibly due to oxidation. This overpainting campaign extends to the tops of the
letters "E,D, and F" of the words "DIED FOR". The dark greenish bronze overpaint
is also seen along the right edge around the tack holes. Traces of shell gold, most
likely from the artist's studio, can be seen throughout the surface with the aid of a
microscope. There is a dent in the support with associated paint loss to the left of
the horse's tail in the background. There are more paint losses located under the
horse's stomach, in the bottom of the woman's cape, and to the left of the top of the
banner pole. Paint surrounding the larger loss in the bronze paint, as noted above,
is slightly lifting. There are deep dents in the support with resulting paint cracking
but no loss located in the horse's neck, the woman's stomach and proper left hand.
Varnish layers:There is a thin varnish layer on the painting that is discolored
and has reticulated to form islands. The varnish fluoresces a greenish color with
ultraviolet-excited visible light, suggesting the type is an aged natural resin. The
application of the varnish stops short of the artist's signature, to the left of the horse's
proper right rear hoof. It appears that the varnish was thinned and/or selectively
cleaned in a past cleaning campaign, as areas of the figure and the horse have more
varnish than others, or none at all. Examination with ultraviolet-excited visible
light reveals that the surface of the painting is covered with small circular spots
that appear black in UV. These spots are not currently visible in normal light
(perhaps because they underneath another layer). These spots may be mold, and
may complicate the cleaning of the painting and compromise its final appearance.
The painting exhibits dark areas when examined with ultraviolet-excited visible
light that may be past retouching campaigns. These areas were found on the horse's
face, under his cheek in the purple background, and along his mane. The area of
possible pentimento mentioned above in the figure also appears darker in ultraviolet-
excited visible light.
Surface grime:The painting is unevenly covered with a dark black layer of
unidentified nature. This layer is sensitive to water based solutions but is highly
tenacious. It is heaviest and most noticeable in the recesses of the brush strokes
of the horse and figure, and in the white letters. Presence of the black layer slightly
diminishes the fluorescence of the underlying varnish layer. Several small white
splatters are located along the left edge of the purple background.
As the Sewall Belmont House & Museum decided not to proceed with the
proposed conservation treatment in 2007, the small cleaning tests areas were
inpainted using reversible watercolors before the painting was returned. (Please
see test locations in accompanying photographs.)
Frame and framing:The frame has been gilding directly on the wood members,
allowing the grain of the oak members to show. The frame's members are wide
and very slightly beveled. A label on the back of the frame reads: ifa galleries/
Backing:There is currently no backing on the painting.
REVISED CONSERVATION TREATMENT PROPOSAL
Without further examination of this painting, the following conservation treatment is recommended: 1. Examination and documentation. 2.Solubility testing to determine appropriate materials and methods to be used. 3.Consolidation of loose paint around flaked losses. 4.Removal of surface grime from the painting and frame. 5.Reduction of the discolored varnish layer, as possible. 6.Removal of past discolored overpaint, if possible to do so evenly and safely. 7. Re-varnishing of the painting with an appropriate resin coating. 8. Infilling of minor paint and ground losses, as required. 9.Inpainting of minor losses with stable and reversible materials. 10. Providing of a protective backing and secure attaching plates to hold the painting in its frame. 11. Installation of D-ring hardware at the frame verso to hang the painting more securely and to give the frame more support.
Estimated total cost for this conservation treatment, including materials, is $3,500 to $3,750.
Examined by Pamela Betts, ARTEX Conservation Laboratory in February of 2007.Revised January 22, 2010 by Barbara A. Ramsay, Director of Conservation Services, ARTEX Fine Art Services
Please see attachments [not posted here] for images.