It’s that time once again where we look back over the past year’s conservation projects that we have shared and showcase the most popular of 2022. From the challenges of textile conservation to going that little bit further for Ancient Egyptian artefacts and structural repairs of oil paintings, discover a range of insights from these fantastic articles below. Does your project feature? Let us know!
The Conservation of a Painting That Survived an Explosion
Artemisia Gentileschi’s Hercules and Omphale travels to The Getty for conservation by Ulrich Birkmaier. On August 4, 2020, a double explosion in the port of Beirut devastated the city. More than 200 people were killed and thousands of buildings were damaged, including Sursock Palace, a 19th-century mansion that was once an opulent symbol of Beirut’s cosmopolitanism and prosperity. The roof of the mansion was partially wrecked, and hundreds of pieces of furniture and art were smashed. One of the many damaged art objects in the building was a priceless painting by Artemisia Gentileschi depicting the Greek myth of Hercules and Omphale.
Take a look at this fabulous account of it’s assessment, here.
The Spattered Jama at the V&A
The spattered jama posed unique and exciting conservation challenges at the V&A and was certainly a popular post this year. The V&A never fail to deliver interesting conservation projects and this one was one of our favourites of the year. The seven-piece 19th-century court ensemble from Jodhpur posed many unique challenges - the measuring of the skirt for example took 5 hours!!
Caring for the only known full kākāpō feather cloak in the world
How do you set about conserving an extremely fragile Māori cloak, made from the feathers of a critically endangered parrot, while observing culturally appropriate practices? This was the balancing act facing a joint team from Perth Museum and Art Gallery, Scotland (PMAG), and the British Museum, and the results have led not only to a sensitive conservation, but to empathetic networks of knowledge and skill.
Eyes are the Window to the Soul, Or So They Say
Typically, at the Penn Museum, conservators prioritize stability over aesthetics. This means that less cosmetic work would be done here compared to at an art museum when it comes to putting in fills and toning out areas of loss. However, this project saw the conservator go further than usual to recreate lost material. This blog post walks through why that decision was made in this case as well as some of the mysteries that were found along the way.
Read the full blog post here.
Conservation and Analysis of a Paper Packet from a 19th-Century Doctor’s Saddlebag
This fascinating project was part of a master thesis and we thoroughly enjoyed the account of the analysis in particular showing just how much knowledge conservators can gain from the investigation of their objects in their care so the best conservation practices can be met.
Read the full account here.
Mix, stir and match: the complexities of dyeing conservation support fabrics
A task which all textile conservators can relate to and one that has led this textile conservator to research further for her dissertation. The outcome could change the way conservators practice dyeing and she needs fellow textile conservators help with a questionnaire, find out more here.
The conservation of a Constable painting of Waterloo Bridge has revealed a long-lost Thames view
We knew this project would be popular. Conservation of a famous work of art is always an interesting read and the largest known painting by artist John Constable, but which was never exhibited in his lifetime, was nothing short. Having been brought back to its full glory by National Trust conservators, the painting now reveals a long-vanished Thames skyline view.
The painting, the Embarkation of George IV from Whitehall: the Opening of Waterloo Bridge, 1817 which records the scene on the second anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, has now returned to display at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire as part of a celebration of Constable works in its collection.
A structural repair of Rubens's 'Het Steen’ at The National Gallery
How will conservator, Britta New meet the challenge of repairing Rubens's fragile panel which has survived centuries' worth of restorations and one very severe frost? We love a behind the scenes video and this one reveals a fascinating story of how this particular painting ‘developed’. You can also see pictured how the panel is secured in place using Willard's Multi positional Clamping Table.
Take a look here.