Many of the paintings we care for have been composed by world-renowned artists, recognisable in their style and palette to an art connoisseur. Unfortunately only a few of these names are women, who have traditionally been excluded from the story of art. When a large landscape came to the attention of our conservation team, we were delighted to have such a grand example by a woman’s hand – a view of Segovia by Mary Cameron. 

Mary Cameron halfway

Mary Cameron (1865-1921)

Mary Cameron was a trailblazing Scottish artist from the turn of the 20th century. Although she applied to be a member of the Royal Academy, she was continuously denied during her lifetime. Today, her diverse body of work is finally receiving recognition by art galleries and collectors. In 2019, a retrospective of Cameron’s work was held at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh.

Under UV before 
Although Mary Cameron was from Edinburgh, she also studied in Spain and produced numerous artworks during her time there. The most controversial of these were graphic bullfighting scenes, allowing Cameron to display her knowledge of anatomy – a specialism she had studied previously at veterinary school. 

Under UV afer treatment

Restoring a Spanish landscape 

The landscape our conservators restored was a distinctive view of Segovia in Castile. There is a fondness in her composition that reflects Cameron’s love of Spain, a warmth to the scene inspires the viewer to imagine an idyllic climate. Furthermore, the rolling hills are reminiscent of the Edinburgh skyline, though notably without the sprawling metropolitan surroundings, providing a much more pastoral and thus perfect setting for the artist.

Mary Cameron

The painting had become badly discoloured, requiring a full surface clean and varnish removal by our conservators. As this process is completed inch by inch with a tiny cotton swab, a piece of this size (measuring 78 x 39 inches) would take several hours to complete. There was also a large drip mark from previous water damage, leaving the artwork vulnerable to deterioration.

Mary before after

As our conservator cleaned the painting, the original tones became clearer – especially the sweeping blue sky. The finished result (as seen below) returned the painting to its true composition, free of the distracting water stain and dark yellow tint. Our conservation team also ensured that the artwork was stable and in its very best condition, allowing it to be appreciated for many generations to come.

Mary Cameron

How can we help?

If you have a similar artwork in need of professional care, please speak to our helpful team today. Email us via [email protected] or call 0207 112 7576

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