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Help save Van Dyck’s Self-portrait

Support the restoration of Stockdale Cope’s Naval Officers of World War I

Naval Officers of World War I by Sir Arthur Stockdale Cope, 1921 As seen here, large areas of the painting have a dull and hazy appearance which is a common sign of oil paint degradation. The appearance of the painting will be greatly improved by surface cleaning. The canvas needs to be re-stretched and strip-lined to strengthen the tacking edges which, as seen here, have perished in places. This treatment will allow the large canvas to be re-aligned and re-tensioned . This is a large old tear which has been mended poorly, the join being overlapped in places and badly secured. The tear needs re-aligning, re-weaving and securing with modern materials.

We have reached our £20,000 target to repair this artwork 

In autumn 2014, the Gallery will display this portrait for the first time in many decades to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War.

Naval Officersof World War I has not been seen for several decades because its poor condition makes it unfit for display. Over the years the canvas has slackened, there are several damages to the paint surface and the entire surface needs cleaning.  The original gilded frame also requires restoration.  Conservation of the painting and frame is time-consuming and costly, but without this essential treatment one of the Gallery’s grandest group portraits remains hidden from view. 2014 marks the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War and if the conservation target is reached the Gallery will display the restored portrait in that special year.

Naval Officers of World War I is one of three large group portraits commissioned by the South African millionaire Sir Abe Bailey in the aftermath of the Great War. Bailey’s idea was that these works would be presented to the nation and would commemorate the role of the navy, the army and politicians during the recent global conflict. Collectively, the group would depict the most distinguished Naval Commanders, Military Commanders and Statesmen of that era. Stockdale Cope declined the invitation to paint the statesmen, opting instead for the naval commanders, a subject with which he felt greater affinity.  The statesmen were eventually painted by Sir James Guthrie, with John Singer Sargent taking the military commanders. Set in the Admiralty Board Room in Whitehall, The Naval Officers of World War 1 is an imaginative arrangement comprising twenty-two portraits of the navy’s most senior figures.

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