Before and After: Portrait of Isaac Bashevis Singer
The conservation department of the Harry Ransom Center is responsible for the care and preservation of the Center's collections. Their work makes materials accessible to scholars at the Center. This new feature highlights repair and conservation work on collection items.
Sylvia Ary, Portrait of Isaac Bashevis Singer, ca. 1935
This unusual watercolor, pastel, and crayon portrait of the Nobel-prize winning author, Isaac Bashevis Singer, was executed on poor-quality wood pulp paper. Breaks occurred to the drawing after it was stored, rolled, and then crushed. Pressure-sensitive "sticky" tape was applied to hold the broken sections together. By the time the drawing entered the Center's paper lab for treatment, only the adhesive residue from the tape remained, and the drawing was sooty.
Treatment of the drawing included reducing the adhesive residue, reducing the dirt, backing the drawing with a lightweight paper for support, and providing paper fills for the areas where paper was lost. Along the breaks, an isolating barrier, then media, was applied to re-integrate the portrait. The portrait now appears whole.