Four portraits of Kenau

Anonymous, oil on panel, late 16th- early 17th century, Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem. Treatment: 08/2013-01/2014

Four portraits of Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaars were restored for the exhibition Kenau: Heroine or Hellcat? at the Frans Hals Museum. Kenau was a "Joan of Arc"-like person who allegedly led an army of women to help save the city of Haarlem during the 80-years war. These paintings are of great historical importance, but until recently have received little attention as works of art.
 
•  A full-length portrait of Kenau (previously hanging in the City Hall, Haarlem) was given a full treatment. Many layers of varnish and overpaint were removed, transforming the appearance of the painting. A hidden detail was uncovered in a scene in the background: Kenau is hitting a bishop with a broom.
• The technique of two bust-length portraits were compared to the better-known version from the Rijksmuseum. One received a full treatment, and the other was made presentable by toning in the previously-applied retouchings.
• The Rederijkersoptocht was given a full treatment, which included removing a thick layer of overpaint that covered the sky.
 
Abbie Vandivere and Kenau expert Els Kloek were interviewed on the Dutch Radio 1 program Met het oog op morgen. Please click here to listen. Abbie and Els are also featured in the introductory film of the Kenau: Heroine or Hellcat exhibition.

Photographs © From the Ground Up, Frans Hals Museum

Dr. Abbie Vandivere, accredited painting conservator based in the Netherlands                                                                  abbie@abbieart.com