At the Nasher Museum: How Does History Add Meaning to a Painting?

"Off the Map: The Provenance of a Painting" is a 14-minute mini documentary about the meticulous conservation and repair of a mid–18th-century painting attributed to Joseph Wright of Derby. In this video, viewers visit the Durham, North Carolina studio of art conservator Ruth Cox, who shares her experience with this timeworn painting. The camera sweeps across the unrestored painting’s surface which magically returns to its former glory after Ruth’s expert care.

The painting and its provenance is featured in a new exhibit at the Nasher Museum of Art that opened Thursday.

Viewers learn about the materials and techniques Ruth used to conserve this picture in such a way that they could be undone without damage. "Portrait of an Artist" is the centerpiece of an intimate show in the Incubator Gallery that provides a case study of a single work of art that was bequeathed to the Nasher Museum by Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans.

From England to Berlin, New York to Durham, the 18th-century painting has journeyed far and seen numerous owners, auctions houses and exhibitions since its creation 250 years ago. SUPPORT "Off the Map: The Provenance of a Painting" is organized by Molly Boarati, Associate Curator at the Nasher Museum.

"Off the Map: The Provenance of a Painting" is supported by The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation and The Samuel H. Kress Foundation.