John North Willys Portrait



John North Willys Portrait - 1915
John North Willys Portrait - 1915

This portrait of John North Willys hung in the executive offices in the Willys-Overland Administration building from the time it was built until around 1935. The painting was part of the office suite that was obtained by Mr. William Higley, a lawyer for Willys-overland. (Click here to see story of the office suite) It was passed down to various relatives until I purchased the office suite in 2010. In the 1960's, the painting was reframed. The years and storage had taken a toll on the painting over the years. After hanging it for nearly 3 years on my wall, I decided to have the painting looked at by Art Conservation Services in Baltimore, MD.

Sian Jones at the Art Conservation Services performed some research on the painting and found out that the painting was done by an Ohio painter named Karl A. Kappes (1861-1943). Karl was a very prolific painter who once liked to quote a Chinese saying that no man is an artist until hes painted 10,000 pictures. "I am an artist," he would then declare.

(Painting Restoration Details Page 1) (Painting Restoration Details Page 2)

Karl A. Kappes
Karl A. Kappes
Karl A. Kappes Studio

The painting itself is rendered in oil paint onto a canvas that has been glued to an auxiliary cardboard support. The canvas was once likely supported on a stretcher. The bust portrait is signed at the bottom right, "KAPPES" in reddish paint.

The painting previous to being treated was dark with both surface soil and with discolored varnish. Accretia detracted from the image. The varnish coaiting was thick. At some point in its history, the hair color was retouched to add in gray over the brown hair. There was no apparent canvas disruptions that would have suggested a reason for repairing the canvas by gluing it to the cardboard. The repaint covered painted that had been abraded or thinned during a harsh cleaning.

Before Treatment Before Treatment
Before Treatment Before Treatment
Before Treatment Before Treatment
Before Treatment Before Treatment
Before Treatment Before Treatment
Before Treatment During Treatment - Partially Clean
During Treatment - Partially Clean After Cleaning - Before Inpainting

During the restoration of the painting, the surface dirt was removed and the discolored varnish removed. New varnish was added. The results were very nice.

After Treatment After Treatment
After Treatment After Treatment

Copyright 2013 - Todd Paisley (paisley@erols.com)
Last updated 2 May 2013