CLEVELAND — Dean Yoder is the senior conservator of paintings at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and in 2021, he began the process of conserving a painting of Venus discovering the dead Adonis from the 1650s.

What You Need To Know

  • The Cleveland Museum of Art works to conserve old art

  • One of their conservation techniques is done through a process called inpainting

  • CMA is currently working on a painting of Venus discovering the dead Adonis from the 1650’s

One of the ways he is conserving this historic piece is through a process called inpainting.

“So what I am doing right now is I’m applying a reversible paint that has been developed for conserving artworks,” Yoder said. “Inpainting is when you are going in and you are trying to basically match the missing passages of paint. In this case, it's a mimetic inpainting so I'm trying to simulate the effects of age with paint strokes, with tiny little dots, little dashes.”

Yoder said when doing this type of work, CMA follows the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works ethics code.

“That is to use materials that are completely reversible, so that in the future, for any reason, this conservation treatment that I’m doing has to be undone, it can be removed without effecting any of the original paint layer,” he said. 

This work is not currently attributed to an artist, something Yoder hopes will change through his process of preservation.

“We also embarked on a trip to Naples to look at other paintings by Neapolitan artists in an attempt to make an attribution, and so we talked to scholars, conservators,” he said. “So we have a couple theories, we haven’t decided exactly, but I think we are on the right track with an attribution.”

Yoder said they have spent about 2,500 to 3,000 hours of labor on this project, and he hopes to finish by the end of 2024.