We recently had our great self-portrait by William Matthew Prior conserved in preparation for the upcoming exhibition, Artist & Visionary: William Matthew Prior Revealed, which opens May 26 at the Fenimore Art Museum. I must admit that even though I expected it to look better than before, the results far surpassed my expectations. Judge for yourself by comparing the piece after conservation (above) and before (below). The conservators at West Lake Conservators did a fantastic job.
In particular, please note the colors on the artist's palette, now visible in their full richness. It is no accident that Prior tilted the palette outward so we could have this view of the color scheme that enlivened so many likenesses of his in the early 19th century. As our guest curator, Jackie Oak, stated, "For Prior, art was a business." That is why this self-portrait not only shows who he was, but also gives the prospective client a taste of the range of hues at his disposal to use in immortalizing his subjects.