Eli Wilner Frame Restoration Grant awarded to the Museums at Washington and Lee University

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Eli Wilner Frame Restoration Grant awarded to the Museums at Washington and Lee University
President’s House Drawing Room, Washington and Lee University, circa 1871 - 1896, showing the Portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette, by Charles Willson Peale, 1779 (center left) in the Lee Family frame, circa 1873. Photograph by Michael Miley, Lexington, VA.

NEW YORK, NY.- Eli Wilner & Company has announced that the Museums at Washington and Lee University, in Lexington Virginia, has been chosen to receive the Eli Wilner Frame Restoration Grant. An independent panel of five jurors selected the Museums' proposal to restore the frame for a 1779 portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette, by Charles Willson Peale, 49 x 40 inches, originally commissioned by George Washington to hang in Mount Vernon.

The following jurors kindly lent their expertise in making this selection:

• Annette Blaugrund, former Director of the National Academy of Design Museum and board president of ArtTable.

• Doreen Bolger, former Director of the Baltimore Museum of Art.

• James F. Dicke II, private collector, Chairman Emeritus at the Dayton Art Institute, and board member of the Ohio Arts Council.

• Aviva Lehmann, Director of American Art, Heritage Auctions.

•Justine Simoni, collector of antique American frames, Pensacola, Florida.

The portrait descended from Washington to the Custis and Lee families of Virginia and was reframed by the Lee family about 1873 after the original was damaged in transport to Lexington, VA. Custis Lee, then president of W&L, donated the portrait to the university in 1897. The portrait was reframed again about 1974 for the nation’s Bicentennial, and the Lee family frame was put into storage, where its condition deteriorated substantially. After extensive restoration by Eli Wilner & Company, this frame will be reunited with the portrait and exhibited in the University’s planned Museum of History and Culture.

Eli Wilner & Company has over 10,000 projects featured in both private and public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, and The Guggenheim, among others. The US White House currently displays 28 Eli Wilner & Co. frames. In 2019, Wilner was honored by the Historic Charleston Foundation with the Samuel Gaillard Stoney Conservation Craftsmanship Award for his company’s work in historic picture frame conservation.

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