Art Restoration History | Oliver Brothers
Archives 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 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.
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.
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.
The original Vacuum Press from 1920’s Engine and Peter Tysver giving a presentation about the original press
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
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.
Art Restoration History
Oliver Brothers Wikipedia page LINK