FA L L / W I N T E R 2 0 1 8 1 9 in their lives, essentially create an entire field of study … He was grateful for the opportunities he had had and wanted to make certain that others could also have opportunities … to develop in a way that they could contribute to society.” From Artist to Scientist Born in Linden, N.J., in 1919, Feller took to art as a teen, creating charcoal portraits and drawings inspired by pictures in magazines. As an undergraduate at Dartmouth College, he produced a series of illustrations for the cover of a student humor publication, and began working in watercolors, which remained a life- long avocation. But despite the gallery-worthy quality of many of his paintings, it was his scientific pursuits that put him on the map. Following service in the Navy during World War II, Feller completed his graduate studies in chemistry at Rutgers University, where his artistic background sparked an interest in the field of “color science.” Upon graduating in 1950, he attracted the attention of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which was working in partnership with The National Gallery of Art to establish a research lab at the Mellon Institute focused on finding new ways to conserve works of art. Recruited to head up the effort, Feller soon established himself as an expert in the evaluation of paints, papers and varnishes. According to retired art conservator John Bogaard, whom Feller hired as a freshly minted Carnegie Mellon University chemist in 1978, this was at a time when acrylics and other man-made materials were being introduced into the field. “But no one knew how they would hold up, what the problems would be.” In time, Feller’s lab research led to more than 100 publications, including three books. The first, On Picture Varnishes and Their Solvents, published in 1959, has since become “a classic in the field” according to Bogaard, and “is on the bookshelf of probably every painting conservator around the world.” During the 1960s, Feller was called on to apply his expertise to such projects as the restoration of Robert Feller in his lab at Mellon Institute in the 1960s OF A PROFILE OF ROBERT L. FELLER