'Project Blue Boy' opens at the Huntington Art Gallery

Saturday, September 22, 2018
'Project Blue Boy' opens at the Huntington Art Gallery
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'The Blue Boy,' a portrait from the 18th century, will undergo a year of conservation at the Huntington Art Gallery, and will be available for public viewing.

SAN MARINO, Calif. (KABC) -- A working exhibit featuring "The Blue Boy" portrait will be held at Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens beginning Saturday.

"The Blue Boy," made around 1770 by Thomas Gainsborough will undergo a year of conservation. The portrait features a boy with a blue satin costume in a style from the 1600s.

The work will go on and off public view for months at a time in the Huntington's Thornton Portrait Gallery.

The nearly 250-year-old painting is cracked and peeling. The canvas lining is peeling away.

Conservator Christina O'Connell will remove aging varnish, cracked paint and reattach the liner.

Over the past year, the painting has been literally under a microscope.

When the project is done next year, "The Blue Boy" should be clearer and brighter.

Railroad magnate Henry Huntington acquired the painting in 1921 for $728,000, the most ever paid for a painting at the time.

Before it came to San Marino, it went on a U.S. tour, creating a national sensation, permanently establishing its place as an icon.

The project is keeping it on public view in an educational exhibition.

When it's in the gallery, the work can be viewed on Thursdays, Fridays and the first Sunday of the month.

For times and any schedule updates, check the Huntington website.

The exhibit opens 10 a.m. on Saturday.