Mold on Watercolor by Edouard Vysekal with an interesting story

Edouard Antonin Vysekal (Czechoslovakia, Hora, 1890 – 1939)

Edouard Vysekal’s watercolor with mold is one of those art conservation stories that’s particularly interesting to art collectors:  I was called one day by to look at a framed watercolor that had mold on it. Turns out that the lady who called was the 84 year old niece of the Edouard Vysekal, a well know California artist for whom an exhibition is being organized, right now (more on that further down in the article).

Preparatory watercolor for oil done in 1929

The watercolor is a preparatory drawing that the 84 year old niece sat for when she was 2 years old in 1929, holding “Uncle Edouard’s favorite cat.

Mold on matting and watercolor

Mold on matting and UL corner of watercolor

The mold was quite active but only growing on the upper left area of the matt and on the watercolor. Still quite tame but critical to get under control (code for “removal – clean – stabilize”). So, in the lab, we got rid of the old moldy matt, kept the original frame (cleaned it thoroughly), cleaned and killed the mold with solvents, deacidified the good quality watercolor paper and reframed it with a new acid free buffered matt. Nothing too extensive… $350.00 worth of effort, all complete with pick up and delivery to the house.

The sitter for the painting, 82 years ago

The subject of the painting, 82 years ago.

Here’s a nice picture of the 84 year old niece today. Notice the self-portrait of “Uncle Edouard” with his cat behind her. And here’s a photo of the final oil (we didn’t work on this, even though the colors would improve with cleaning) that Vysekal did from his preparatory watercolor.

Oil painting of girl with cat by Edouard Vysekal

Oil painting of girl with cat by Edouard Vysekal

I think this is all interesting stuff: to see the sitter for the painting 82 years ago and to see the preparatory watercolor for the oil. It was fun to meet the niece and see what these paintings have meant to the family and to hear how loved “Uncle Eduard” was and I like seeing Vysekal’s cat in several of the paintings.

The Vysekal exhibition and publication are being curated by Marian Kovinick  and will be held at the Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA):

Love Never Fails: The Art of Edouard and Luvena Vysekal

September 18, 2011 – January 8, 2012

This exhibition brings together the work of two talented artists, the husband and wife team of Edouard and Luvena Vysekal, whom artist Arthur Millier described as, “diminutive, complementary and unfailingly energetic; inseparable in life, art and in newsprint.” Love Never Fails will focus on their distinctive artistic styles and how they became emblematic of modernism in a conservative art community, opening the door to an aesthetic taste for the avant-garde.

This exhibition is curated by Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick.

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About Scott M. Haskins

Scott Haskins has been in professional art conservation since 1975, specializing in the conservation/restoration of easel paintings, murals and art on paper. FACL, Inc. is known nationally for doing A+ work no matter the size or difficulty of the project. We are happy to do a quick cleaning on a family heirloom. Our client list and resume is also full of very satisfied clients of large, difficult/complicated projects at remote locations. Excellent services are also available as an Expert Witness/Legal Testimony in art related matters. Consultation on art related projects occur regularly including extensive insurance evaluations for insured or insurer. Services are offered worldwide. Scott M. Haskins is also author of the "Save Your Stuff" series, educational information, materials and supplies to help people protect and save their treasured family heirlooms and collectibles at home and office. He can be reached at 805 564 3438. Video and written testimonials at
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6 Responses to Mold on Watercolor by Edouard Vysekal with an interesting story

  1. Scott M. Haskins says:

    Enzo, Thanks for leaving this comment. Interestingly, I am visiting with a person today who had a bunch of oil paintings he’s inherited and is in the “same boat” as you. Here is a video I made that is a little over 6 minutes long that discusses removing mold off art on paper. Its a private video and is not available to the public (its going to be part of a video membership club I’m organizing):

  2. Canada Mason says:

    Thanks for sharing your video Scott! Very instructional and well done.

  3. Scott M. Haskins says:

    Thanks Andrea for leaving the comment. Another video I’ve made about a collection of art that had water damage and mold is here:

  4. When airborne mold spores are present in large numbers, they can cause allergic reactions, asthma episodes, infections, and other respiratory problems for people. I’m a mold expert and suggest that when handling moldy items, that you protect yourself with a mask and gloves.

    • Scott M. Haskins says:

      Thanks for the comment Joseph. You are absolutely correct. The paper masks and latex or nitrile gloves can be bought at a Home Depot/Lowes type store.

  5. Maggie Jessup says:

    The loved this story and it was great to see the little girl vs. the old woman, now. Thanks for the cool insight. Btw, I saw the show and liked Vysekal’s work very much.

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