Last week 13 museums around the world received grants from Bank of America for the conservation of their artwork and The Gibbes Museum is one of them. The grant will allow The Gibbes to restore two pastel paintings by Henrietta de Beaulieu Dering Johnston, who is believed to be the first female artist in America.

Johnston’s paintings are of James Barry, fourth Earl of Barrymore, and his wife, Elizabeth Boyle. The Gibbes acquired the paintings in 2014 and while the are in “remarkable condition,” the paper supports are fragile. The conservation process would remove the fragile paper from its acidic mount as well as mend any tears.

In its five years awarding conservation grants Bank of America has provided funds for 85 projects in 28 countries. The Gibbes grant totals $12,275. On average 70 nonprofit cultural institutions apply for the grant.

In a statement The Gibbes Museum acknowledges the historical importance of the two images it’s preserving:
“These rare paintings are a major resource for scholars studying colonial artists, women’s roles in eighteenth-century America, and the role of female artists in American art history. Restoration will ensure their availability for presentation, study and enjoyment by many into the future.”

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