No, it wasn't the secret train to France; the haunting Art Nouveau structure was scattered in pieces inside a studio, where acclaimed art conservator Clifford Craine
colleagues meticulously restored the century-old bronze archway and fence to its original grandeur.He
then traveled to Ohio to help reassemble the entrance at the Toledo Museum of Art
, where it stands today.Craine
and three other conservators make up Daedalus Inc.
, an internationally recognized art conservation company that made its home in Watertown two years ago, thanks to an industrial-sized workspace with high ceilings, a garage door, and an adjoining office.
There's no sign above the doorway to Daedalus
, and Craine
, the head conservator, wants it that way.He
staff clean and repair sculpture here, and they're busy all year round preserving art from museums, private collections, cities, and corporations.Craine
has never advertised, relying on word of mouth.Craine, 59, started as an apprentice at the Detroit Institute of Art in 1972.
A job at Harvard University's Fogg Art Museum
brought him to Massachusetts in 1976, and he
went into ''private practice'' in 1983.
The office at Daedalus looks like any other, except for the 19th-century marble busts here and there.Books of art and history line the shelves, such titles as ''The Work of Augustus Saint-Gaudens'' (a tome dedicated to the renowned American sculptor), and ''Eternal Egypt.''
The adjacent studio has a towering ceiling to accommodate art as big as subway entrances.
One day last week, Craine
short, steady fingers over the greenish body of a huge bronze eagle.The grand bird was once perched on a building in New York City, and is now relegated to Craine's
studio, sitting in a plastic box filled with dry rice for a cushion.One hundred years of wind, snow, and raindrops pelting its sculpted feathers caused pitting and some corrosion.
Across the studio, Craine's son, Joshua, was repairing part of the eagle's 6-foot wingspan, which had been separated from the sculpture.The 30-year-old assistant conservator filled the eroded spots on the eagles' wings with bronze putty and the help of a scalpel.It will take about five weeks to restore the eagle and return it to its owner.
...''It looks fabulous now,'' said Robert F. Phillips, curator of modern painting and sculpture at the Toledo museum. ''[Craine] is absolutely a great conservator - one of the best in the world.''