Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pictures, from Scotland to Cyprus, via Birmingham and Derbyshire...

My mother had several pictures hanging in her house in the UK, but there were a set of three prints which she was particularly fond of. As far as I remember, they had previously belonged to her parents who lived in Scotland.

They hung over the fireplace in my mother's living room in her house in Birmingham for some years. I found this photo which I've cropped to show one of them, although the glass was reflective and the image isn't very clear.

Watercolour print of Sisley painting, in my mother's house in Birmingham

When my mother died, at the end of May 2013, our son Tim, who had lived with her for five years, said that he would very much like these three prints. However we had no easy way of getting them to Cyprus. So one of my brothers took them to his home in Derbyshire, and put the pictures away in a cupboard in a guest room.

In the Summer of 2014, I spent a couple of days with my brother and his wife. I wasn't certain that I could remember which pictures Tim wanted. We found several that were from my mother's house, and I took photos. The ones Tim was keen on seemed a bit faded to me, although that hadn't been obvious when they were on the wall. The frames were quite strong, but there was some staining on the white mounts around the pictures. They were quite large, and of course the glass posed a problem. I had no idea how we could ship them to Cyprus.

Apparently the original artist was one of the early French impressionists, Alfred Sisley. One of the pictures shows a tree-lined path:

watercolour painting of tree-lined path, print of painting by Alfred Sisley

One of them shows this view of a canal:

Bleak looking canal path, watercolour painting by Sisley

And this one, the one shown at the top of this post, shows a view of a house through some foliage:

water colour of a house, half hidden by shrubbery

Tim confirmed that these were, indeed, the pictures that he wanted. However, he felt no attachment to the frames or mounts, and agreed that it would not be a good idea to ship them with the glass. There was nothing I could do at the time, anyway, so we put them back in the cupboard.

Then Richard and I were in the UK again at the end of February, and spent a few hours at my brother's house while travelling North. Richard was planning to send a shipment back to Cyprus, so we got the pictures out again, and he carefully extracted them from their frames and removed the mounts. This was not a simple process, and took considerably longer than he expected; in one of them we found an old newspaper which was dated, if I recall correctly, from the late 1920s. Evidently the frames had lasted nearly 90 years, so it wasn't surprising they were looking rather tired.

Richard packed the pictures with strong cardboard and, several weeks later they arrived safely in Cyprus. We took them to Tim's flat, and he put them behind a chair, still in the cardboard... and there they remained for another six months. Then I suggested that we might get them professionally framed as our birthday present to Tim, and he thought that was a good idea.

So we took them to a local art gallery that has a framing service, and chose white frames (at Tim's request). The woman who dealt with us showed us several options, and we realised that an outer card mount improved the appearance although we didn't choose one anywhere near as big as the previous mount. We also opted for non-reflective glass.

Tim was pleased with the result on his birthday, and today we took them to his flat so they could be hung in place. He has a long wall in his living room where they look great:

water colours on the wall, in new frames in Cyprus

The effect is, unsurprisingly, more modern than the previous style of frames, and goes nicely with Tim's white furnishings.

I'm glad that these pictures are, once more, on display. And having discovered images of a couple of the originals online, I think I like the blue faded effect better. 

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