A 19th century painting at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath that underwent conservation work following an adoption by former Mayor of Bath Councillor Paul Crossley has been gifted back to the city.
‘Adela Breton: Travels with a Paintbrush’ has just finished being part of an exhibition at Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Victoria Art Gallery. The conservation of the artwork was a gift from Councillor Paul Crossley, when he was Mayor of Bath 2017 – 18.
In his year as Mayor, Councillor Crossley welcomed the Ambassador of Mexico, members of the family and admirers of Adela Breton, to the unveiling of a historic plaque at Camden Crescent to recognise the work of Breton.
Breton, 1849-1923, was a remarkable archaeological artist and explorer brought up in Bath. In the late 19th century, she embarked on travels through Mexico, Canada and Japan. Wherever she went, Adela Breton recorded the local architecture, geology and plant life in watercolours.
She made a major contribution to Mayan archaeology, producing detailed studies of newly excavated temples.
Adela Breton’s Pueblo de Taos, New Mexico, is a watercolour of 1892. Taos is one of the oldest native Indian communities, or pueblos, in America. The reddish-brown buildings are made of mud and were built between 1000 and 1400.
Although Adela left few paintings of the southwest of America, she was fascinated by the native people and landscape and visited several pueblos whilst in New Mexico. She wrote that the area was “even more interesting geologically than from the archaeological stand-point”.
Jon Benington, Victoria Art Gallery Manager, said: “Sadly, because of the way that Breton glued them on cheap acidic cardboard, these works are slowly being destroyed.
“Many of the paintings on show have been adopted, enabling important conservation work to be carried out.
“The conservation involved cleaning, reducing discolouration and staining, repairing tears, reducing warping and has ensured the preservation of the painting for years to come.
“The Adopt-a-Picture scheme at the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, is a unique opportunity to adopt a painting from the permanent collection, restore it to its former glory and to see the name of the adopter credited alongside the picture whenever it is displayed.”