Art Restoration History | Oliver Brothers

19th Century art restoration records , Oliver Brothers Art RestorationArchives of American Art, James Oliver Account Books 1865-1890, New York City Historical Society and the Smithsonian Institution

1850 New York City

James Oliver, the original founder of our firm, was trained and worked as an art restorer in Scotland. Some time before 1850 he arrived in New York to ply his trade in the New World. Together with his son George, they established themselves as the pre-eminent art restoration firm, and were soon doing restoration for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, along with many other illustrious public and private clients.

The History of art restoration in the United StatesThe Olivers Come to Boston

Sometime after the Civil War, George relocated to Boston and established Oliver Brothers (then known as “James Oliver’s Sons”) as the leading art restoration firm in the Northeast. For a period of time, they had locations in both Boston and New York City.

(View a 100 year-old Oliver Brothers brochure)

Priceless Works Deserve Special Care

This 1906 article from the Hartford Courant reports on the Olivers’ restoration of a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington, which was completed within the Connecticut State Capitol building at the insistence of the state’s comptroller, who feared the painting’s value would make insuring it for transport to Boston cost prohibitive.


The history of art restoration and conservation

A Lasting Contribution to the Field of Fine Art Restoration and Conservation

George’s two sons, Fred and George Taylor, were trained in the exacting skills of painting restoration. In addition to being an outstanding restorer, Taylor proved to be a brilliant innovator and inventor. He perfected several innovative procedures for removing surface imperfections and transferring paintings with compromised supports. His primary contribution to the field however, was the invention of the world’s first vacuum table for re-lining paintings. He designed and built the original table himself, and it was used by our firm for many years. His original patent is in our archives. The vacuum table pioneered by Oliver Brothers is used throughout the world today in the restoration and conservation of paintings.


Engine Used on Oliver's Patented Vacuum Table   Current Co-Owner Peter Tysver Giving a Presentation on the Oliver Brothers' Patented Vacuum Table Used in Art Restoration

The original Vacuum Press from 1920’s
Engine and Peter Tysver giving a presentation about the original press

Art of Oil Painting Restoration, George T. Oliver, United States Patent # 2,073,802


George Taylor’s son, Emerson, was trained at an early age to join the firm. Emerson and his uncle Fred worked together until Emerson’s untimely death in 1960. Fred then sold the business in 1961 to Carroll Wales and Constantine Tsaousis. Fred remained long enough to pass on the many special techniques and procedures that the Oliver Brothers had perfected over the years.


Ashlie Gorky’s murals restored by Carroll Wales and Peter Tysver Newark Airport, Newark, New Jersey

 Ashlie Gorky’s murals restored by Carroll Wales and Peter Tysver
Newark Airport, Newark, New Jersey


Oliver Brothers Today

In 1968 Mr. Wales and Mr. Tsaousis found a young art school graduate named Peter Tysver who showed an aptitude for art restoration and took him on as an apprentice. When Tsaousis died in 1986, Mr. Wales decided to retire and Mr. Tysver took over the business. In a way similar to his own introduction to art restoration, a young artist, named Gregory Bishop, was discovered and trained by Mr. Tysver in 1990. Mr. Bishop and Mr. Tysver are now partners and the business has prospered and grown over the years. In a manner similar to the studios of the Old Masters, continuity of the Oliver Brothers from its inception to the present day has been maintained for over one hundred and fifty years.

Antique easel, history of art restoration Art Restoration History

Oliver Brothers Wikipedia page LINK

Art restoration and Conservation history Wikipedia Oliver Brothers 




Oliver Brothers