Nearly 200 years ago, the great architect and collector Sir John Soane left his house and museum for everyone to enjoy. One of the most treasured paintings in Soane’s collection was The Snake in the Grass by Sir Joshua Reynolds, which depicts a classical nymph possibly portrayed by Emma Hamilton. Soane hung the painting prominently opposite his own portrait in the lavish Library-Dining Room, where it remains today.
The gilded frame of this painting is significant in its own right. A beautiful work of 19th-century craftsmanship, it is also the original frame in which Soane bought the painting, a rarity as many historic paintings had their original frames removed.
But today, this frame is desperately in need of repair. The gilding is in poor condition and the gesso surface beneath has degraded. We need your help to raise the £15,000 required to clean and conserve this frame and preserve it for generations to come.
Soane had a personal connection to the painting. The artist, Sir Joshua Reynolds, was a champion of Soane’s during the architect’s early career. When Soane, as a student, won the Royal Academy’s prestigious Gold Medal for Architecture, it had been Reynolds who presented him with the medal, setting him up for early success. Soane hung this painting in the Library-Dining Room as a mark of its significance and of Reynolds’ importance in his life.
If we’re successful in raising £15,000, we’ll be able to fund the expertise, materials and processes necessary to conserve this beautiful frame. The money will largely go towards the cost of a specialist frame conservator working on the frame over the three months of conservation, in addition to the materials needed to conserve the frame. It will also pay for expert art handlers to carefully de-install and re-install the painting, and for storage of the Reynolds painting during the three months. The £15,000 also includes replacement of the frame’s glazing with a special non-reflective glass, and detailed photographic records of the frame pre- and post-conservation.
Please donate today, and help us save the original frame of one of Sir John Soane’s most treasured paintings.
We’re delighted to announce that through Art Fund, a private donor has matched pound for pound the first £5,000 of donations, doubling the impact.
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