Light Damage

sommer office3When Princeton University Library received the wonderful donation of over two dozen paintings and drawings by Cleveland artist William Sommer (1867-1949), several staff members immediately fell in love. Various prints and watercolors were distributed to offices within the library, where they remained for almost thirty years.

The works were donated to Princeton University thanks to the Mildred Andrews Fund in honor of Dr. William Milliken, ’11, *33 (1889-1978). Arrangements were made between 1985 and 1986 by Sommer’s foremost collector Joseph M. Erdelac (died 2004), and Peter Putnam ‘42, *50 (1927-1987). Less than one year later Putnam was tragically hit and killed while riding his bicycle.

Happily, we have learned a great deal about the damage light can do to works on paper, watercolor in particular, and we have removed the originals from permanent display. Unhappily, for this particular watercolor by Sommer, it was not quite soon enough. A facsimile has been created to hang in its place, cleaning up the years of darkening caused by over-exposure to light. The original, on the left, will be housed in a cool, dark drawer to preserve what is left for future generation.

Sincere thanks to all the staff members who participated in this transfer and rehanging.
sommer officeWilliam Sommer (1867-1949), Profile of woman in purple dress, seated in green chair, reading a paper, 1936. Watercolor. Graphic Arts collection. Gift of the Mildred Andrews Fund in honor of Dr. William Milliken. Formerly owned by Rev. Dexter Chenny, given to him by William M. Milliken, acquired from William Sommer.