Art Conservator | Volume 6 No. 1

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A P U B L I C A T I O N o f T ‌h e W illia m s town A r t C on s e r v ation C e nt e r

Volu m e 6 , N u m b e r 1   •  S P R I N G 2 0 1 1

Working Print, Museum Piece Williamstown Art Conservation Center | 1

Contents, Spring 2011

Art Conservator Volume 6, Number 1 • Spring 2011 Director T‌homas J. Branchick Editor Timothy Cahill Art Direction and Production Berg Design, Albany NY Photographer Matthew Hamilton Contributors Allison McCloskey Kathleen Payne de Chavez Allison Pappas Sandra L. Webber Office Manager Rob Conzett Accounts Manager Teresa Haskins Office Assistant Amanda Turner Printing Snyder Printer, Troy, NY Williamstown Art Conservation Center 227 South Street Williamstown, MA 01267 T: 413-458-5741 F: 413-458-2314 Atlanta Art Conservation Center 6000 Peachtree Road Atlanta, GA 30341 T: 404-733-4589 F: 678-547-1453 All rights reserved. Text and photographs copyright © Williamstown Art Conservation Center (WACC), unless otherwise noted. Art Conservator is published twice yearly by WACC, T‌homas J. Branchick, director. Material may not be reproduced in any form without written permission of Williamstown Art Conservation Center. WACC is a nonprofit, multi-service conservation center serving the needs of member museums, nonprofit institutions and laboratories, and the general public.

On the cover Eliot Elisofon, Marcel Duchamp Descends a Staircase (detail), 1952, treated working print, Mead Art Museum, Amherst College.

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3 Director’s Letter 4 Let There Be Light American Photojournalism and the Working Print

By Allison Pappas 8 Degrees of Separation in Sixteenth-Century Antwerp

Restoration reveals workshop practices of a Mannerist Adoration By Sandra L. Webber


Upholstery Investigations

Unraveling the fiber clues of an Alma-Tadema piano stool By Kathleen Payne de Chavez 14 WACC News & Notes

Innes, early and already a master; Vermont insect art; Victorian tortoiseshell tea caddy; NEA grant for Norman Rockwell 17 Report from Atlanta

From the Director

As I write this in late April, the snow from what seemed like our endless winter is almost gone. T‌he glacier that slid off my front porch roof is still there and we have bets it will endure till sometime in May. Nevertheless, spring has arrived. Time for rebirth and looking to the future. T‌he Atlanta Art Conservation Center has an exciting project that took years to bring to fruition. T‌he African American artist Hale Aspacio Woodruff’s renowned Talladega murals, Talladega College, Alabama, are at AACC for cleaning, consolidation, and lining. T‌he treatment will allow them to go on a two-year tour, first to Atlanta’s High Museum of Art. T‌he six monumental canvases, commissioned in 1938, are arranged in three cycles of two, depicting the La Amistad slave ship uprising, the Underground Railroad, and the founding of Talladega College. T‌hese murals are considered Woodruff’s masterpieces, and will be featured in a future Art Conservator. I am particularly pleased to feature the Judith M. Lenett Fellowship project on the cover of our current issue. Lenett fellow Allison Pappas is the first to work in the discipline of photography; her description of her project, beginning on page 4, is excellent. Photography conservation is a new service at the Center, made possible by the addition of paper and photo conservator Jennifer McGlinchey. Since joining the staff last September, Jennifer has been attracting new clients and establishing her reputation as a stellar practitioner. Hats off to Jen! It took a couple of years, but the economic downturn finally caught up with the Center this winter. Workload fell off, but things look encouraging for our next fiscal year. For those who might have been putting off a treatment, conservators have been able to respond sooner to certain projects than during a typical cycle. We have a magnificent facility, and now is an ideal time to take advantage of it. —Tom Branchick

John Marin in Castorland, vibrantly


Tech Notes

Supports for Textile Display: Overview and Strategies for Flat Objects By Allison McCloskey

As Berkshire snows gave way to grass at Stone Hill Center, winter’s toll could still be seen in the scrambled letters of the label for an outdoor installation of works by Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi. The sculptures, Kyoto-san (left) and Personage I (Ningen I), are on loan from the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum.

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Cover Story

Let T‌here Be Light American Photojournalism and the Working Print By Allison Pappas Each academic year, the Judith M. Lenett Memorial Fellowship is awarded to a second-year student in the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art. T‌he fellowship, which is jointly administered by Williams College, the Williamstown Art Conservation Center, and T‌he Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, allows recipients to explore issues of conservation in the field of American art. Working closely with WACC conservators, each fellow spends two semesters conserving and researching an American art object. T‌his year’s Lenett Fellow, Allison Pappas, focused on three twentieth-century gelatin-silver photographs from the Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, Amherst, Mass. Under the guidance of Leslie Paisley, Chief Paper Conservator, and Jennifer McGlinchey, Assistant Paper and Photograph Conservator, the project culminated in a public lecture at the Clark. Ms. Pappas will spend the next year as the Graduate Intern in the photography department at the J. Paul Getty Museum. T‌he article below is excerpted from Ms. Pappas’s Lenett lecture.


hotojournalism took many forms across the different eras and political tides of the American twentieth century. As the Williamstown Art Conservation Center’s Judith M. Lenett Fellow, I had the opportunity to work on three photographic prints from the collection of the Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, that delineate some of the most significant shifts in journalistic practice. From January through March, I treated these photographs, a process that included cleaning, filling losses, mending cracks, and addressing damage sustained from handling and housing. I examined the scars that accrued on the surfaces of the photos, marks that speak to their lived histories as working prints. T‌he photographs—Lewis Hine’s Lunch Time (1908), Robert Capa’s Allied Entry Into Paris (1944), and Eliot Elisofon’s Marcel

Duchamp Descends a Staircase (1952)—today hang on museum walls, but not so long ago they were part of a different history. T‌heir stories—their use in different moments of our history, as different models of the photojournalistic purpose—can still be read today. In this article, I describe the historic background and treatment procedure for one of the three prints, Elisofon’s Marcel Duchamp Descends a Staircase. DUCHAMP DESCENDS STAIRCASE himself for a repetitive flash-picture and thereby makes a modern photograph as Dadaist as his 40-year-old Nude painting. 1 As its caption from the April 28, 1952 issue of LIFE magazine explains, Eliot Elisofon’s striking photograph was made through the careful manipulation of light. T‌he photo shows a ghostly Marcel Duchamp descending a staircase in the manner of his famous 1912 painting, Nude Descending a Staircase. Elisofon captured Duchamp’s motion on a single frame of film by leaving the shutter of his lens open while he set off multiple flashes, each burst of light capturing one position of the body as it moved down the stairs. Although Elisofon and Robert Capa were contemporaries, this photograph represents a different kind of photojournalism from Capa’s war reportage. Elisofon’s image presages the prevalent coverage at LIFE that is credited with the magazine’s decline in the 1960s and ’70s, when a trend away from the political and towards softer feature stories did not reconcile with Lenett Fellow Allison Pappas at work in the WACC paper lab.

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width of the published photograph; a pica is a typographic unit American readers’ interest in social revolution and the war of measurement used in publishing that corresponds to 1/6 of in Vietnam. Elisofon’s work ranged from war to glamour an inch. “1st and 2nd print matte” means that two prints were photography. He was also a watercolorist and African art originally requested, both on matte paper. In addition to this aficionado, and this interest meant that Elisofon often ended information about its use at LIFE, two labels speak to later up with arts and culture assignments. uses of the print. T‌he first, a red stamp “USED RAYFIELD T‌he print arrived from the Mead in a distressed state. PHOTOG BOOK p. 26” refers A plethora of cracks and to an unknown book project. distortions on the surface and T‌he other, a paper label adhered a barrage of marks on the back to the back, shows that the print spoke to its long history of use. was borrowed in April, 2000 by T‌he stamps and marks can be V. Porges. Vivette Porges had decoded to give a sense of not been a photo editor at LIFE, only how the image was used at and used the image for a 2002 LIFE, but subsequently as well.2 book project she worked on “36144” in the upper left corner with Peter Jennings, In Search is the set or project number of America. At the bottom LIFE assigned to record and right corner, “2004.14” is the file the story, negatives, contact Mead’s accession number for sheet, and print. It does not cataloguing the print into its list the number of the negative, collection. which is unusual. When LIFE Such extensive use of the stopped weekly circulation and print, and all the filing and fell under the control of Time, sending around that it entailed, Inc., the archiving system dictated our conservation became more complex. At treatment plan. In addition some point the barcode sticker, to basic consolidation and called a Merlin ID, was added cleaning, the print was so to the print so that it could Eliot Elisofon, Marcel Duchamp Descends a Staircase, 1952: creased and distorted it needed be scanned and identified in the working print, after treatment. serious overall flattening. I the digital database. T‌he blue began by removing the three labels from the back, so they check marks scattered throughout mean that the negatives would not press through to the emulsion layer on the front at were in their proper location during various inventories of the any point during the treatment. To this same end, I filled a collection. T‌he caption information was typed directly onto number of shallow skinned losses and deeper divots in the back the print, which is somewhat unusual, more often being typed of the print to even out the surface, using, as the case dictated, onto a label affixed to the back. If you look carefully on the either a mixture of cotton paper fiber and Aquazol, a stable front you can actually see the impression of the letters! T‌he adhesive, or thin Japanese paper. After surface-cleaning the orange rectangle also shows through to the front, and indicates print verso and recto, I tested the various inks and pencil marks the cropping of the photograph used in the original LIFE on the back to see how they would hold up in response to both article. moisture and heat. T‌he red “Used in LIFE April 28, 1952 P100,” records the T‌he results were encouraging, so we were able to use a image’s original date of use and page number. T‌he other dry mount press to flatten the print. Both the removal of the date, “April 15 1952” in black, might refer to the date the labels and leveling of the back surface had been in preparation picture was filed or when it ran in an international issue of for this outcome. I also consolidated all of the cracks in the LIFE. Elisofon’s stamp falls towards the bottom of the page, surface of the print, applying an additional layer of gelatin that identifying him as the photographer. “110 picas” refers to the Williamstown Art Conservation Center | 5

Verso of the Elisonfon working print, showing caption, cropping, filing and identification marks. 6 | Art Conservator | Spring 2011

my brush to the paper, I finally succeeded in making the areas spread into the cracks, forming a bandage of sorts with the of loss unobtrusive. I reattached the labels on the back with dry mount press. T‌he treatment used the heat and the high wheat starch paste. Looking back at my work, I could see subtle pressure of the press to relax the cracks and allow the new changes—old adhesive replaced by easily removable wheat gelatin to penetrate and reinforce the emulsion. Since this is an aggressive treatment, it is only used for photographs with severe starch paste; new watercolor inpainting in place of Spotone and older inpainting; and a print that now lay flat. I had left cracks that compromise the structural integrity of the surface. my own marks embedded in the T‌he treatment must be done with surfaces of these photographs. extreme care because it manipulates Future scholars and conservators moisture and heat—two of the looking closely or reading the most dangerous elements for records will be able to see these photographs—to force the paper as reflections of this phase of the to reset. After quick pressing, the print’s history. T‌his photograph, photograph is left to dry and rest and the others I treated, are no under heavy weights to continue longer working photojournalistic the flattening. T‌he exposure to prints; they are museum pieces heat is limited and performed in a and they work in new ways, carefully controlled environment, garnering the marks of new but unsettling nonetheless. circumstances. We chose this option because T‌his, finally, speaks to the yet another set of scars embedded last phase of my project. In in the print—along with museum addition to treating the problems records to back them up—showed and deterioration of the past, that it had had prior conservation conservation also incorporates treatment. T‌he image was relatively preventive methods to protect clean when I began treatment, and for the future. For all three of close inspection revealed a large the prints, the greatest problems area of inpainting in the middle of Oblique spectral photograph of the print, used to related to handling and housing the print. Someone had been here detect cracks and distortions on the print surface. conditions. T‌he prints were before! As I surface cleaned, the folded, creased, and torn, seemingly waved around before being careful concealing of a large white scar came off along with a bent and stuffed into tight photo-mounting corners. It was significant amount of ink from surprising areas that had not necessary to rethink the housing for the prints. Since becoming seemed to have inpainting on first inspection. T‌his ink, called museum artifacts, they had been mounted between mat boards Spotone, covered dust spots and other flaws in the negative, to support them from the back while protecting their surfaces. and probably dated back to LIFE editors when the print was But not all matting m ethods are created equal. Photo corners in use. Furthermore, the Mead’s files included conservation can be damaging if they are too small, and even delicate records that listed prior, less aggressive attempts to flatten the Japanese paper hinges can put undue stress on already-weak picture for better image visibility. Ultimately, the dry-mountprints. Size, strength, and flexibility of individual prints need to press flattening treatment was successful and improved the be matched to their proper mounting format. appearance and stability of the print. For the Capa and Elisofon, both relatively large prints with T‌his nerve-wracking step over, I had to revisit the labored bad histories of cracking, we decided that Z-fold mounting process of inpainting small spots as well as a relatively large would be the safest choice. Z-folds are made by folding loss in Duchamp’s pants. It took me a very long time to get it strips of paper into slings that fit around all four sides of the right. Inpainting is quite challenging; it is easy to go too dark photograph and are taped down to the backing board.3 T‌he too fast and be forced to start over entirely. Slowly building up thin layer upon layer of pigment, barely touching the tip of (continued on page 18) Williamstown Art Conservation Center | 7


Degrees of Separation in Sixteenth-Century Antwerp Restoration reveals workshop practices of a Mannerist Adoration By Sandra L. Webber


ven before the Greater Hudson Heritage Network awarded the grant funding for restoration, we knew the Hyde Collection’s Adoration of the Magi would not be an ordinary treatment. Two dilemmas quickly emerged; how to place the Antwerp Mannerist painting in its art historical context, and how to properly re-restore the image to a closer semblance of its original state. T‌he two problems became entwined in such a way that answers to the first question offered the solution to the second. When purchased by Louis and Charlotte Hyde in 1929 from E. & A. Milch of New York, the small oak panel had already been restored as well as backed with a second oak panel and cradled. A 1¼-inch extension had been added to the top edge and the original panel’s center join had been opened and re-glued slightly askew. As a result, the left half of the panel is now higher than the right, creating some awkwardness in the horizontal architectural elements. T‌he painting was treated cosmetically in the 1930s and again in 1958, and as time went on the restored areas moved further away from the original design. T‌he biggest challenge in this restoration lay in the large losses in the lower left quadrant, encompassing areas of the tiled floor and the stone structure in the lower center, but most importantly, the costume of King Balthazar. Conjecturally restored in 1958, his outer garment had become a heavy cloak spilling to the floor around him. Lacking a pre-damage photograph of the painting, my only hope was to find another

version as close as possible to the Hyde’s Adoration, to allow for a more accurate restoration. But who was the artist and were there surviving versions? Once the old overpaint and multi-colored wax fills were removed and a new off-whitefill was laid into the losses, I was able to see what remained of the original paint layer and compare any existing versions for the closest match. Fortunately, an internet search of Antwerp Mannerist Adorations revealed at least eight other versions of this composition, and one particularly useful copy on the London-based Sphinx Gallery website, a painting now privately owned in Kiel, Germany. T‌he term “Antwerp Mannerist” was first used by German art historian Max Friedländer in 1915 to describe a large group of prolific Antwerp artists from the early decades of the sixteenth century. T‌heir rapid development coincided with Antwerp’s emergence as the principal import-export city of Northern Europe, a market dealing largely in luxury goods such as spices, fine textiles, metals, furs, leather goods, and even diamonds. Antwerp, already known for its textiles, became famous for its brilliant dyeing, as well as some new lightweight fabrics. Devotional art, primarily based on the life of Mary, was nearly the sole oeuvre of the Antwerp Mannerists, with the Adoration of the Magi being the most popular subject. According to recent scholarship, these small, affordable paintings also reflect a number of facets about the commercial world of Antwerp, making them even more popular among the city’s merchant class. T‌he foreign kings bearing gifts, for instance, are a direct reference to the Portuguese shippers who brought the first spices and exotic goods from the Far East around Opposite page, the Hyde Collection’s Adoration of the Magi, after treatment. This page, far left, the painting before treatment, with old cosmetic fills, and during treatment, with the fills removed, revealing large areas of missing original paint.

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1501. T‌he background scenes depict various aspects of trading activity, from pack animals laden with bales and merchants opening trunks, to the inns where traders conducted business. T‌he main protagonists are all richly

Detail comparison of three Adorations, all based on a now-lost original by Jan de Beer. At top, the Hyde painting, after treatment; center, a version owned privately in Germany; and at bottom, the painting in Munich’s Alte Pinakothek. The lower two images are from printed reproductions used by the author as reference. 10 | Art Conservator | Spring 2011

dressed in colorful and elaborately trimmed textiles, referencing Antwerp’s proudest industry. Caspar’s ermine-lined, madder-dyed cloak is turned back to reveal a gold-threaded robe and exposed sleeves of changeant, the new two-color shot fabric. T‌he influence of the Magi story on the Antwerp mercantile community even took on a personal note, as merchant families named their sons Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. T‌here are more than forty highly similar versions of this particular composition known in collections, reproductions, and sale catalogues. T‌he majority are framed triptychs with T‌he Adoration of the Magi as the center panel, flanked by other scenes from Mary’s life, such as the Annunciation and the Flight into Egypt. Another nineteen examples exist presently as single paintings like the Hyde panel, although all may once have been parts of triptychs. As the significant number of surviving versions indicates, these paintings were produced in large numbers and not individually commissioned. T‌hey were made principally for the art market, and dispersed throughout Northern Europe and exported farther afield. While Friedländer categorized these Antwerp Mannerists into groups, recent scholarship has focused on closely allied images based on identifiable artists’ work, such as this group of Adorations. Extensive research by Dr. Dan Ewing has shed new light on the probable source of these images. Although Friedländer suggested T‌he Adoration of the Magi in the Philadelphia Museum of Art as the progenitor of the series, Ewing believes they all stem from a lost Adoration of the Magi by Jan de Beer (c. 1475–c. 1536), one of a handful of known Antwerp artists of this period. While the Philadelphia painting is still used as the template describing this series, Ewing also cites a triptych in Munich’s Alte Pinakothek with a very close affiliation to the lost de Beer. With Ewing’s assistance we were able to locate a good color reproduction of Munich’s central panel, which answered our quest, as this painting shows the greatest similarity to the Hyde’s Adoration. During the first three decades of the sixteenth century many new apprentices, assistants, and master painters enrolled in Antwerp’s St. Luke’s Guild. Jan de Beer himself was listed as an apprentice in 1490, and by 1504 had become a master painter. Less than ten years later several people were listed as his apprentices. Paintings of this period were rarely signed, and copying images was accepted practice. To keep up with the demand for pictures, streamlining of workshop techniques took place, including overt borrowing of compositions and drawings. One way to expedite production would be to make a series of paintings the same size. T‌he panels would all receive the same cartoon tracing or sketch to locate the composition onto the surface. Despite a variety of heights due to the shaped tops of some

panels, the size of the Adorations remains remarkably similar. Among those with recorded dimensions, the widths of many Adoration panels in this series range between 51 and 58 centimeters, the Hyde panel being 52.7cm. A few well-documented panels, including the Munich and the Sphinx-Kiel versions, have been examined using infra-red reflectography, which has shown a variety of underdrawing styles. T‌he Munich drawing appears to be the result of tracing and transferring from another image, while the Hyde painting exhibits faint sketchy lines, more reminiscent of the free-hand drawings found on the Sphinx-Kiel panel and two other Adorations. In seeking a match for the Hyde painting, the distinctive compositional elements examined for comparison were the main figures, the background scene, and the architectural details, including the ruin, the floor pattern, and the crumbling stone structure in the lower front. Although the Munich and Sphinx-Kiel panels are arched, their background scenes are almost identical to the Hyde painting in the placement of trees, buildings, and the winding train of people and animals. Although both depict the Star of Bethlehem high in the sky, damages to the Hyde painting in that location precluded any evidence of the star, so it was not introduced. All three panels have square pilasters with the same intricate surface design and the Hyde floor tiles show the same pattern as Munich’s, although the Hyde artist lost the pattern midway across when he dropped a blue triangle to the wrong row. Because of the large loss in Balthazar’s costume, the verisimilitude of the figures on the other two examples was of paramount importance. T‌he restoration of the Hyde painting first involved studying the floor pattern and Balthazar’s losses with Mylar overlay drawings. T‌his was followed with watercolor perspective lines for the floor and outlines for the missing folds of the drapery. T‌hin layers of translucent color, made with dry pigments ground in Paraloid B-67 varnish, were built up slowly to match the depth and luminosity of the original paint. Although the Munich image was the primary source for the restoration, the Sphinx-Kiel drapery was used for some folds on Balthazar’s blue-white textile. It is unknown if the Munich and Hyde paintings come from the same workshop, nor do we know how many hands may have been involved in their production. One curious note is that the drapery folds on the Hyde painting are actually better articulated than most of the other versions, including the Munich triptych. Perhaps future scholarship will identify the individual artists involved with this mass-marketing effort in Antwerp. When that happens, the Hyde Collection’s Adoration of the Magi will hopefully stand with the best of the copies of the lost Jan de Beer masterpiece. For scholarly assistance on this article, the author gratefully acknowledges Erin Coe, Chief Curator, and Jayne Stokes, Associate Curator of T‌he

Top, conservator’s study of the Adoration’s floor pattern, drawn on clear plastic. Above, detail of the restoration during treatment.

Hyde Collection; Dr. Dan Ewing, Professor of Art History, Barry University, Miami Shores, FL; and the Greater Hudson Heritage Network. Sources —Dan Ewing, PhD, T‌he Paintings and Drawings of Jan de Beer, Michigan University, 1978, 2 vols. —Dan Ewing, unpublished draft “Jan de Beer: Gothic Renewal in Renaissance Antwerp,” 2010, and e-mail correspondence with the author and Hyde curators. — Extravagant! A forgotten chapter of Antwerp Painting 1500–1530 (essays on the exhibition), Antwerp Royal Museum and Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, published as the Antwerp Royal Museum Annual, 2004–05. Especially: Annick Born “Antwerp Mannerism: a Fashionable Style?”; Dan Ewing “Magi and Merchants: the Force behind the Antwerp Mannerists’ Adoration Pictures”; and Yao-Fen You “Antwerp Mannerism and the Fabricating of Fashion.” —Max J. Friedländer. Early Netherlandish Painting, Vol XI: “T‌he Antwerp Mannerists: Adrian Isenbrandt,” Leiden and Brussels, 1974. —T‌he Hyde Collection, Glens Falls, New York, curatorial and archival files —Sphinx Gallery, London, England, website: —Van den Brink, Peter (editor) Breughel Enterprises, Bonnefantenmuseum, Masstricht and Musées Royaux des Beaux Arts de Belgique, Brussels, Ludion Ghent-Amsterdam, 2001, especially Van den Brink “T‌he Art of the Copy” (discussion of the underdrawings).

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Upholstery Investigations Unraveling the fiber clues of an Alma-Tadema piano stool By Kathleen Payne de Chavez


of the music room in Marquand’s home and thorough research into other pieces from the same suite of furniture, Hugh Glover, head furniture conservator, and I conducted an investigation into how the object may have originally appeared. T‌he investigation began with the piano stool itself, which goes with the opulent Alma-Tadema piano that is a centerpiece of the Clark’s collection. We also obtained a remnant of original upholstery from a companion chair now in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia, on loan from the files of London dealer Blairman & Sons, as well as a report from the Metropolitan Museum of Art on an AlmaTadema settee also from the Marquand music room. We needed to address certain specific queries: What was

Courtesy Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute

‌ e Williamstown Art Conservation Center has h worked closely with the curatorial staff of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in treating works from their collection and in the analysis of original materials found on their objects. In the case of a piano stool designed by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema for Henry G. Marquand, close examination and analysis have yielded fascinating information about the original upholstery scheme. T‌he Clark’s Kathy Morris, curator of Decorative Arts, and assistant curator Alexis Goodin, came to the WACC Furniture and Wood Objects Department with certain questions about what the piano stool could reveal about its original upholstery. Beginning with evidence supplied by the Clark, including a period photograph

Lavish Pianoforte and Pair of Stools, designed by Sir. Lawrence Alma-Tadema, at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Fibers from one of the stools were used in analysis to help determine the original upholstery. 12 | Art Conservator | Spring 2011

the weave structure of the remnant textile from the Victoria to the ribs-per-inch count in the silicone casts.1 T‌his thread chair? Was this remnant woven in silk, cotton, or wool? Did its count also loosely corresponded with the documented thread structure and fiber composition correspond with the findings of count in the Metropolitan’s report. the Met report documenting its settee? What could the piano Having connected the showcover weave structure of all stool itself tell us about the upholstery visible in the original three pieces, we proceeded a step further. I took fiber samples photograph? And was there any evidence left on the stool from the warp and weft directions of the chair remnant to suggesting similar show fabric compare thread composition. to the Victoria chair and/or the I also looked at the fibers from Metropolitan settee? the piano stool trimmings. By Hugh began by removing two looking at the basic morphological layers of restoration upholstery, characteristics of the fibers under revealing not only the original high magnification, I was able to burlap-covered foundation but identify the natural fibers used also the graphite signature of the to create the upholstery. T‌he upholsterer, “W. H. Ember.” A National Gallery of Victoria’s slight zigzag pattern could be original fabric proved to be silk seen impressed into the burlap fibers in both the warp and weft cover, which corresponded to directions. T‌his corresponded decorative trimmings apparent in exactly with the Metropolitan’s the photograph. On the underside report of their settee’s show fabric. of the stool’s seat frame, precious In addition to establishing this original upholstery fibers from showcover correlation, I was also these trimmings were trapped able to characterize the piano beneath upholstery tacks. T‌his stool’s trimmings. Green fibers revealed two colors, green and from the stool’s faux-binding a coral pink, for the trimmings’ had the characteristic helical composition. Near some of the convolutions of cotton, while tacks we could also see impressions the pink fibers had longitudinal left in the wood where the original striations and cross-over marks showcover had been secured; this characteristic of silk. Top, the stool cushion’s original burlap-covered gave us a way to compare the Close object examination, foundation. Above, green and pink fragments of original physical evidence with that of the judicious sampling coupled fibers found under an upholstery tack. chair and settee. with detailed analysis, and From the underside of the stool, I took fiber samples from the invaluable collaboration of conservators and curators the trapped trimmings fragments and made silicone casts of has yielded additional information about the Alma-Tadema the textile showcover impressions left in the wood, carefully suite of furniture from the Marquand music room. T‌his new documenting the location of each sample and position of information, used in conjunction with previous analysis, the silicone casts for future reference. Using a binocular continues to shed light on the rich decorative scheme of the microscope, I examined the fine weave structure of the chair upholstery chosen for these elaborate art objects. T‌his is remnant, conducting a thread count and comparing it to valuable information as the Clark endeavors to reconstruct the the textile casts from the stool. T‌he finely woven warp-faced upholstery of the piano stool, and mount an exhibition of the rep-weave structure of the Victoria chair’s showcover had music room reunited and reupholstered after decades of being approximately three hundred thirty six threads per one-inch separated in far-reaching collections of the world. section in the warp direction and eighty threads per one-inch notes section in the weft. T‌he eighty threads in the weft direction 1 Each cast gave just an 1/8 inch section from which the forty ribs-per-inch could be created forty ribs or ridges per inch, which neatly corresponded extrapolated. Williamstown Art Conservation Center | 13

WACC News & Notes

Early Inness, already a master

the painter’s American influences: the bark-rough naturalism of

Objects Department inspects unique collection of insect art

A powerful sense of place pervades George Inness’s landscapes,

Asher B. Durand and Thomas Cole’s allegorical idealism. Inness

T‌he Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium recently commissioned the

a sense that depicts spiritual states as much as actual locales.

was a lifelong student of Emanuel Swedenborg, the Swedish

Williamstown Art Conservation Center’s Objects Department to consult

T‌he more than 1,500 paintings and sketches by the painter in the

philosopher-scientist who maintained that there are “two worlds,

on its unique collection of images and collages created from mounted

catalogue raisonné constitute a travelogue through an empyrean

a spiritual world where angels and spirits are, and a natural world

insects. T‌he museum owns nine pieces of so-called “Bug Art” by John

of Inness, a place where natural science and metaphysics are

where men are.” The painter himself is famous for his declaration

Hampson, an English-born draftsman and machinist who came to the US

reconciled in perfect composure. T‌heir reality is visionary, not

that, “A work of art does not appeal to the intellect. It does not

in the 1860s. After his retirement, Hampson settled into a life as an avid


appeal to the moral sense. Its aim is not to instruct, not to edify,

amateur entomologist and insect artist, creating portraits of Washington,

but to awaken an emotion.” Inness was the synthesis of all these

Lincoln and other prominent Americans, as well as kaleidoscopic

Academy of Design when he created A Nook Near Our Village.

inspirations and aspirations, equal parts rugged energy, soulful

collages made from butterflies, moths, and beetles he collected in his

His distinct vision and technical acuity are already evident in

introspection, and awakened feeling.

backyard and environs around Newark, New Jersey.

the picture, which is owned by the Everson Museum of Art

Typical of Inness’s early oils, the scene is a studio invention

in Syracuse, New York. T‌he painting is part of an extremely

derived from field drawings, painted sketches, and an imagination

when his daughter sought a museum that would accept the collection

exclusive club—one of only thirty-five finished oils by Inness that

honed by metaphysics and poetry. T‌he largish canvas (2½-by 3½

for care and exhibition. T‌he Fairbanks, located in St. Johnsbury, Vermont,

exist from the decade of the 1840s. It shows him in full stride, as it

feet), which Quick characterizes as “a study in masses and voids,

was the only museum to accept the gift. Founded by Franklin Fairbanks

Hampson died in 1922 and his family kept his work until the 1970s,

superimposed forms, and . . . textures,” was

as a Victorian “cabinet of curiosities,” the museum houses a natural

commissioned by the American Art-Union.

history collection of animal, vegetable, and mineral specimens from

T‌he AA-U was a membership organization

around the world.

that supported American art through

T‌he WACC assessment, performed by Head Objects Conservator

subscriptions of prints, and by purchasing

Hélène Gillette-Woodard, found some of Hampton works suffering

original paintings its members could win via

from deterioration due to environmental factors and outmoded display

an annual lottery. Between 1845 and 1851,

procedures. She recommended a three-pronged remedial approach

the Union purchased twenty-four paintings

that would involve construction of archival storage boxes, improvement

by Inness, becoming for a time his principle

of display procedure and environment, and treatment of the three


most deteriorated artworks. WACC is currently assisting the Fairbanks

A Nook Near Our Village came to the

Museum in securing grant funding to implement this program.

Courtesy Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium

In 1849, Inness was not long out of classes at the National

A collage of butterflies, moths, and beetles by John Hampson, at the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium.

Williamstown Art Conservation Center with the canvas slack on its stretcher, and both T‌his privately-owned, English

paint and ground cupping and cleaving. T‌he


surface of the picture had planar distortions

Regency tea caddy is constructed

and was flaking friable paint. T‌he varnish

of wood with a tortoiseshell veneer and

had oxidized beneath a film of dirt and

touches of ivory and silver. It came to WACC


showing typical signs of age and wear,

When the painting was released from

with much of the tortoiseshell detached

its stretcher, it was discovered it had been

or lifting. Hide glue was used to reattach

glue-lined during a previous treatment

the veneer, which was held in place with

and covered at the edges with paper

a series of micro-clamps. Hide glue was

tape. With the tape and lining removed, it

traditionally used for adhering veneer, and

became evident the old lining had caused

was selected in this treatment because it

were, fully engaged in absorbing differing influences on the way

the surface distortions and was likely contributing to paint loss.

is compatible with existing materials and

to his mature voice.

A dilute of BEVA acrylic adhesive was washed over the original

could activate the old adhesive, resulting

canvas reverse and infused on the vacuum hot table to secure

in optimal adhesion. T‌he clamps are Berna

author of the Inness catalogue raisonné, is the “rugged,”

the loose paint layer. Relining was done with Belgian linen, and

Assembleurs, high-density carbon rods

“disorderly,” “energetic” realism of Dutch landscape painting

the painting restretched onto the existing stretcher. T‌he grime

with polycarbonate jaws and soft silicon

typified by Jacob van Ruisdael. T‌his aesthetic is in sharp contrast

layer was removed and losses inpainted, after which a corrugated

pads. Pressure is exerted when the jaws are

to the paintings Inness had been producing for two years prior,

plastic panel was added to the reverse for increased rigidity and

squeezed together, allowing for a great deal

models of the repose and idealism of the French classicist


of flexibility and finesse when clamping

George Inness, A Nook Near Our Viliage, 1849, after treatment.

T‌he influence in this case, as observed by Michael Quick,

Claude Lorrain. In the space between these Old Masters are 14 | Art Conservator | Spring 2011

delicate works. Williamstown Art Conservation Center | 15

WACC News & Notes

Report from Atlanta

John Marin in Castorland, vibrantly By Larry Shutts “Castorland, land of imagination,” John Marin wrote to Alfred

and threatened to dissolve. When the cleaning was complete,

Stieglitz in July 1913. “T‌he wind blows all day, a perfect gale, from

the ground looked brilliant white when unsaturated by varnish,

the West.” T‌he American modernist spent the summer of 1913 in

so it was decided to hand varnish only the oil paint passages. I

that windy northern New York village, sandwiched between Lake

traced every brush stroke with a small brush to keep from getting

Ontario and the Adirondack Mountains. Trees and Hillside, one of the works Marin created there, is important as a transitional piece between his watercolor work

varnish on the ground. T‌he varnish saturated the colors so they now pop from the matte finish background. It took hours of inpainting to conceal the exposed canvas and

and his oils. T‌he oil painting is approximately fifty percent

address losses in the colored passages. To get the proper effect

unpainted white ground with bright splashes of oil color. It was

in the colored areas, I had to first paint the ground color, then

brought to the Atlanta Art Conservation Center by its owner in

the final color, which meant inpainting every small loss twice.

preparation for exhibition at the High Museum of Art. T‌he owner

T‌he inpainting of the ground had to be matte in finish while the

never though it looked quite right, but could not say why.

colored passages needed to be glossy to retain the overall effect

T‌he work had been previously treated in the early 1980s. It had suffered from micro-flaking of the ground that showed the

of an unvarnished painting with gleaming splashes of color. T‌he signature, which was originally painted in green, at some

tops of the weave of the raw canvas. T‌his gave the work a dingy

point was abraded and repainted in black. T‌he black overpaint

look overall; you could see brown canvas where you should have

was removed as far as possible without damaging the very

seen bright white ground. T‌he problem appeared as tiny brown

sensitive green letters underneath. Further research will be done

dots over the entire painting. Why so much loss of paint? Possibly

to determine if additional restoration is required on the signature.

environmental causes, but not being the first to treat the picture, I don’t know its full history. Working drawing by Norman Rockwell for his c. 1950 painting Casey At Bat. The drawing, owned by the Norman Rockwell Museum, is constructed from nine pieces of paper joined with rubber cement. Pieces are loose, curled, and missing.

not brilliant, as Marin’s works typically are. In

NEA to fund conservation of Rockwell work drawings T‌hirty-six drawings, posters, and photographs from the Norman

T‌he Rockwell work drawings present several challenges,

Rockwell Museum will be treated by the Williamstown Art

Paisley noted. Most dramatic, perhaps, is a full-size charcoal

Conservation Center’s Paper Department under a grant from the

rendering of the final Casey composition, constructed from nine

National Endowment for the Arts. T‌he “Save America’s Treasures”

pieces of paper joined with rubber cement. T‌he adhesive, applied

$144,240 grant will be used to stabilize and conserve artwork and

in the 1950s, has released, allowing the large puzzle pieces to

archival materials that provide insight into the working process of

separate and curl. T‌hree sections are missing, including a section

Norman Rockwell and other American illustrators.

from the center of the drawing. In addition, the charcoal is

Among the objects to be treated are work drawings found rolled and in pieces in Rockwell’s studio. “T‌hese are process drawings from all phases of Rockwell’s working method,” said Leslie Paisley, WACC’s chief paper conservator. “Some are preliminary sketches, some are more

unfixed and will not stand up to certain wet cleaning processes. “Rockwell never meant these to last,” said Paisley of the work drawings. “We’re fighting time and the nature of the materials inherent in their construction.” T‌he drawings have been unavailable for exhibit because the

fully developed.” Among them are two studies for the Rockwell

Stockbridge, Massachusetts museum could not afford to repair

painting Casey at Bat (c. 1950); a detailed charcoal and graphite

them. T‌he treatment process will take place over two years.

study for T‌he Soda Jerk (1953); two portraits of astronaut John

Also part of the grant is a set of four posters of Rockwell’s

Glenn (c. 1972); and a reference drawing for Rockwell’s last

1943 Four Freedoms, used to sell war bonds, and a rare World

unfinished painting, John Sergeant and Chief Konkapot (1975).

War I Navy recruiting poster illustrated by Howard Chandler

T‌he grant work also contains an ink-and-pencil sketch by

Christy, featuring his iconic “Christy Girl.” T‌he photographs

illustrator Charles Dana Gibson, creator of the “Gibson Girl,” and

include a recently discovered 1925 photo of Rockwell with

an ink and gouache illustration by William T‌homas Smedley, part

fellow illustrator and role model J.C. Leyendecker, one of the few

of Rockwell’s personal study collection.

photographs of Leyendecker known to exist.

16 | Art Conservator | Spring 2011

About forty percent of the old losses had been retouched, so it appeared passable but addition, varnish applied during the previous restoration had saturated the ground, making it even darker, which I discovered only after the treatment began. We started with a grime cleaning and light spray varnish to see if we could make improvements without removing the extensive retouching. T‌his was only mildly successful. After much testing and looking at other Marins, I determined that the varnish was the enemy and that the painting was dirty underneath it. T‌he previous treatment had not addressed underlying grime, which along with the exposed canvas really made the work look dull and lifeless. T‌he owner agreed to a full cleaning, meaning all the old varnish and retouching would have to be removed. T‌hat completed, I set about to remove the grime embedded in the unpainted ground, a tricky task, as the ground was extremely sensitive to cleaning John Marin, Trees and Hillside, 1913 Williamstown Art Conservation Center | 17

Tech Notes, Spring 2011 WACC Staff

T‌homas Branchick Director; Conservator of Paintings/Dept. Head Mary Catherine Betz Associate Conservator of Paintings Mary Broadway T‌hird-year Intern/Paper John Conzett Office Manager Hugh Glover Conservator of Furniture and Wood Objects/Dept. Head Matthew Hamilton Photography Technician Teresa Haskins Accounts Manager Hélène Gillette-Woodard Conservator of Objects/ Dept. Head Rebecca Johnston Conservator of Paper Henry Klein Conservation Technician Lauren LaFlam Assistant Conservator of Objects Montserrat Le Mense Conservator of Paintings Cynthia Luk Conservator of Paintings; International Projects Allison McCloskey Assistant Conservator of Objects and Textiles Jennifer McGlinchey Assistant Conservator of Paper and Photographs Leslie Paisley Conservator of Paper/Dept. Head Kathleen Payne de Chavez Assistant Conservator of Furniture and Wood Objects Michelle Savant Associate Conservator of Objects/Atlanta Larry Shutts Associate Conservator of Paintings/Atlanta Amanda Turner Office Assistant Sandra Webber Conservator of Paintings 18 | Art Conservator | Spring 2011

(continued from page 7)

print is held securely in place and no adhesive is used on the photograph. For the Hine, a smaller print, this mounting method would have been overbearing; additionally, the photograph did not have a white border on all sides that could be covered. T‌he solution was Japanese paper hinges. T‌his was how the print had been previously matted, but we decided to take a stronger approach. Putting hinges only on the top of the print allowed it to be lifted to view the back, but also put pressure on the top edge of the print or even allowed rips or folds to occur. We decided to put hinges on the top and bottom, evening the distribution of weight and securing the print from both sides. Our mounting solutions mean that the backs of the prints will not be viewable without taking apart the mounts. While this is simple to do, it is not something to be done often, as it then requires another trip to the conservator for remounting. T‌he backs of the prints contain important material, so this choice presented a serious change as a result of our ministrations. Beforeand after-treatment photographs of the verso will be included in the folder with the prints for easy reference. T‌he mounting decisions are Ultraviolet image used to inspect for optical brighteners in the photographic paper. T‌he small bright chip at bottom left indicates a fill used to patch the edge of the print; otherwise, lack of florescence confirms the paper’s vintage prior to the inclusion of brighteners in manufacture.

entirely reversible, but they mark a different use, a different purpose, for the images. Robert Capa never saw his photographs hanging on a wall in his lifetime, and yet this is primarily how we engage with his photographs today. He shot his pictures for glossy magazine paper or newsprint, but we rarely see even these old issues unless in a museum as well. T‌he treatment I have done, visible marks and all, serves to aid in the new identity of these prints. T‌he repair, care, housing, and preventive measures all aspire to ensure the longevity of the prints, to continue their lives as objects of scholarly contemplation and aesthetic appreciation. T‌he moment when a photograph moves from the working materials of photojournalism to museum artifact is elusive. T‌he working prints of photojournalism today do not usually hang on the walls of museums. When will they make the transformation? I suppose this is the old question of when history is made? When do the value of the stories embedded on the surfaces of a photograph, and what they tell about the histories of photojournalism and art, printing and technological advances, outweigh its original use? As the Lenett Fellow, these photographs have reminded me of the importance of this question, illustrating their own dynamic progression from working prints to museum treasures. notes 1. Winthrop Sargeant, “Dada’s Daddy,” LIFE Vol. 32, no. 17 (April 28, 1952), p.100. 2. All of the following information came from conversations with Karen Mullarkey, photo editor and former LIFE employee, and Bobbi Baker Burrows, Picture Editor at LIFE Magazine. 3. For a complete description of Z-fold mounting, see “Tech Notes,” Art Conservator, Vol.5, No. 2 (Fall 2010), p19.

Supports for Textile Display: Overview and Strategies for Flat Objects By Allison McCloskey Assistant Conservator of Textiles and Objects Most textiles and many other three-dimensional objects made from organic materials require support for safe storage and display, both to slow down the damage gravity exacts and to allow for optimal viewing of the object. Mounts and supports are an important part of the object’s preservation; if well-designed, they can serve for both storage and display, thereby reducing unnecessary handling of an object and the associated risks. Display supports also aid in the viewer’s interpretation of the object, preserving the intended form or shape in as inconspicuous a manner as possible. As part of an exhibition, the manner of display can complement the interpretation of the object. A good mount design provides the necessary support while presenting the object to its full advantage, and allows for a safe, minimally invasive, and retreatable method of attachment. Considerations for mount design

Mount design begins with examination and assessment of the object’s stability. The degradation and oxidation of organic materials is accelerated by use, light exposure, and poor environmental conditions. Areas of the object which have been handled heavily in the past, or carried a significant amount of weight, are often weakened and required support to prevent further damage [Fig.1]. Components may not be as flexible and supple as they once were, so manipulation may be limited and modifications to the support may be required. Soiling or staining may also embrittle components which were intended to be flexible. Storage without adequate support or padding between folds often results in creases which can weaken and even break. Stabilization of tears, weak areas, and losses may be necessary in order for the object to be displayed in the desired orientation, particularly if the flaws compromise the appropriate distribution of weight necessary for safe display. Material choice is integral to mount design. Materials are selected to provide the desired physical properties such as rigidity and firm support where necessary, along with a balance of cushioning and gentle support in more vulnerable areas. The original form that supported the object must be essentially re-created, taking into account the changes that the object has undergone with age and use. The surfaces of the mount materials that directly contact the object also contribute to the success of a mount. A preferred surface texture will protect fragile object surfaces from abrasion and aid in safe removal of the object; a surface can also be selected for a slightly toothed texture to help secure the object on the mount. Often a combination of these contrary properties is desired, and materials are used in an unusual assemblage that makes best use of their properties in a selective manner to contribute to support and safe handling of the object. A mount can compensate for cosmetic issues that are not desirable to the curator. In some cases a well-designed mount can serve in place of a treatment that actively manipulates or modifies an object. A mount cover with an appropriate color and texture can visually minimize small losses that do not require stabilization. Design elements within a loss can be recreated on the mount cover, as a form of passive fill or “inpainting,” without affecting the artifact. A mount Williamstown Art Conservation Center  |  19

Tech Notes, Spring 2011

maker can also utilize color theory to show the object to its best advantage; certain colors can de-emphasize the yellow discoloration and darkening that often occurs with aged organic materials. Carefully placed padding can gently coax an object back to its original form (taking care not to create any damaging stresses). Materials for mounts and supports

Figure 1: Thomas Willis, Hiram Emery; silk, painting, and embroidery. The silk back panel was shattered in transit due to lack of support.

Figure 2: Katy Schimert, A Woman’s Brain; aluminum mesh, wool, steel pins, and electrical sockets. The textile sculpture is supported for flat display by a custom panel of laminated aluminum and polyethylene.

20 | Art Conservator | Fall 2010

Mounts generally consist of a firm, internal support or armature, padding material to soften the form and achieve the desired shape, and a cover which comes into direct contact with the object and may be partially visible. The placement of these layers is dictated by the object’s needs. Metals, wood products, and some stable plastics can serve as the firm internal support of the mount. Stable polyethylene foams of good quality manufacture can provide both support and cushioning within a mount. Synthetic polyester fiber products and fabrics serve as the outermost cushioning and cover, and their chemical stability is critical due to their close proximity to the object. Mount materials are selected, tested, and treated if necessary to be non-reactive with the object and to perform for an extended period of time. Poor mount materials can accelerate the degradation of the organic components of the object, affect dyes or other applied surface treatments, and corrode metal components. If the mount fails because it has aged poorly, it can put the object at risk for damage. Custom-designed mounts represent a significant investment in time and effort, and as such should use materials and construction techniques that are stable and durable over a period of time. Using mount materials that can perform as intended and remain stable through both anticipated handling and environmental fluctuations, even water damage and other emergency situations, best allows for the preservation of the artifact. Certain stainless steel and brass alloys are suitable for mount applications, and can provide lightweight strength when used as an armature or internal component of the support. Panels made of aluminum honeycomb or aluminum laminated onto a polyethylene core are also useful as a rigid and lightweight base for a support. The latter can be custom cut to follow the contours of the object. [Fig. 2] Metals which may corrode are coated with age-tested resin coatings to prevent any corrosion that may occur through normal exposure to the elements or in the event of an environmental control failure. Dissimilar metals should not be placed in contact with one another because it could lead to galvanic corrosion, where the less noble metal corrodes preferentially in contact with the more noble metal. Barrier layers provide protection and cushioning where needed. Wood products are readily available, easy to work, and strong; as such, they can seem like an obvious choice to give form and structure to a mount. However, wood products have various levels of acidity, and manufactured wood products have adhesives which may contain formaldehydes and acids. Issues such as the wood’s acidity, the sensitivity of the object, and the amount of airflow around the mount are considered when including a wood product in a mount design. Impermeable barrier layers such as laminated aluminum foil sheeting are incorporated if there is little tolerance for any acid migration, such as with cotton

and other plant materials, and in enclosed cases. Many applied coatings do not sufficiently block acid migration from the wood and cannot provide enough protection against the acidic products of the wood to be suitable for use in direct contact with an object or in an enclosed space. Padding materials used within a mount can provide cushioning and gentle support in a wide range of densities. Polyethylene foam in plank form is available in a range of densities up to 9 lb/ft3; the most commonly encountered is approximately 2.2 lb/ft3. This is a closed-cell foam that will not absorb and hold moisture and can retain its shape under considerable, extended stress. While the polyethylene polymer is chemically inert and stable, the blowing agents used in its manufacture may off-gas and become brittle or react with materials in direct contact. Therefore it is important to purchase materials from established manufacturers whose products are regularly tested for such issues. Polyethylene foam is also available in sheet form. Other padding materials often used in mounts are polyester batting and polyester fiberfill. Batting is available in a wide range of thicknesses. Many battings sold for quilting retain their form because they are resin-bonded; the resins used in this process can off-gas and be damaging to historic artifacts. Only heat-bonded battings, where the extruded polyester fibers are locked to one another in the desired lofty format, are recommended for use in mounts. Similarly, polyester fiberfills can be treated with coatings such as polysiloxanes to increase their slickness for a softer padded feel; these coatings may interact with sensitive artifacts and should be used with appropriate barrier materials. Fabrics often cover the surface of the artifact mount. This direct contact introduces a great deal of opportunity for physical and chemical interaction with the object. A stable fiber with good ageing properties, spun and made into a dimensionally stable fabric will best serve this purpose. Dyes are tested to ensure that they will not crock, or rub off, on the artifact. Other surface treatments that may be applied, such as fire retardants and stain preventive coatings, have proven to be unstable in close contact with artifacts. In addition to woven and knitted materials, nonwoven fabrics such as DuPont Tyvek (a spun-bond material made of polyolefin, a stable polymer) can serve as covers for mounts. Texture and color (or ease of dyeing or painting) are key properties considered when choosing a fabric for a mount. After testing, fabrics are scoured to remove sizings and oils from manufacture. If necessary, the fabrics can then be dyed or painted with stable, tested materials and techniques to achieve the desired colors or patterns.

Figure 3: Hanging hooks, not original to this tapestry, unevenly distribute weight and may cause tears and distortions along the piece’s top edge.

Strategies for display

“Flat” textiles such as quilts, samplers, and embroidered panels are often intended to be viewed from a single side. While there is emphasis on the twodimensionality of the works, their structure includes a depth which must be considered for proper support. Padded fabric-covered panels made of archivally sound materials conform to any irregularities of the surface. Fabric for the panel is selected to provide a friction nap-bond, which contributes to the support that the panel provides. An appropriate color choice can mask losses and de-emphasize any Williamstown Art Conservation Center  |  21

Members of the Consortium

discoloration of the object. Methods of attachment that secure the object to the support are critical to a system’s success. When displayed vertically, the weight of the object transfers stress to the point of attachment. Spreading that stress over a broad and stable area is a primary goal in preparing these objects for display. Fabric-covered supports allow for minimally interventive stitching to provide such attachment. Stitching is chosen only when a textile is strong enough to withstand conservation stitching and can support its weight from these carefully chosen points of attachment. Threads are chosen for several qualities including visual appearance, chemical stability, and balance of strength and breaking point to prevent damage. Thread must not react with the object or degrade quickly. The ideal thread will provide adequate and gentle support without damaging the object, in a diameter that safely passes through existing stitch holes and/or interstices of the weave. If the thread matches the object in color and gloss, and is of a fine-enough diameter to be visually inconspicuous, larger stitches may be used which will better distribute the weight of the object and reduce the potential for damage. Stitch placement is critical, since each

stitch affects how stresses are transferred through the object; a misplaced stitch can result in distortion or tearing, in particular on an aged textile. As the dimensions of a “flat” textile increase, the weight increases and the planar irregularities/unevenness compound over a greater distance. Improper hanging can cause tears and distortions. [Fig. 3] If the object is stable enough, a hanging system of wide cotton twill tape and hook and loop tape can be attached to the top edge. For a large textile to hang safely and squarely, the hanging system should be perpendicular to the direction of vertical stress in the center of the artifact (usually the warp yarns of the fabric). This isolates and prevents any unevenness and undue stresses from being transferred through the object. A safe method of hanging will distribute the weight of the object over a broad and stable area to prevent damage from hanging. When executed correctly, these hanging systems are also removable with minimal change to the object. Costumes and three-dimensional objects pose similar concerns, compounded by their more complex structure and range of use. These will be addressed in a second installment.


Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art,

T‌he Rockwell Museum of

Art Conservation Center

Cornell University

Western Art

227 South Street, Williamstown, MA 01267 Addison Gallery of American Art,

Hood Museum of Art,

Phillips Academy

Dartmouth College

—Andover, MA Albany Institute of History and Art —Albany, NY Alice T. Miner Colonial Collection —Chazy, NY T‌he Arkell Museum —Canajoharie, NY Arnot Art Museum —Elmira, NY Art Complex Museum —Duxbury, MA Atlanta Historical Society, Inc. —Atlanta, GA Bennington Museum —Bennington, VT Berkshire Museum —Pittsfield, MA Bowdoin College Museum of Art —Brunswick, ME Charles P. Russell Gallery, Deerfield Academy

Allison McCloskey, Assistant

T‌he Cheney Homestead of the

Conservator Of Objects And

Manchester Historical Society

2007, treating artwork and working with clients to help preserve their collections. She studied Art History and Museum Studies at Rutgers University (1998), followed by the MA programs in Art History and Museum Studies at Syracuse University (2001). She specialized in textiles with a concentration in preventive conservation at the Winterthur/ University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (2006) and completed internships at the National Museum of the American Indian and with New York State’s Bureau of Historic Sites at Peebles Island Resource

Historic Deerfield, Inc. Deerfield, MA

—Deerfield, MA

Textiles, has been at WACC since

—Ithaca, NY

—Manchester, CT Colby College Museum of Art —Waterville, ME Connecticut Historical Society —Hartford, CT T‌he Daura Gallery at Lynchburg College —Lynchburg, VA Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art —Amherst, MA Fort Ticonderoga —Ticonderoga, NY Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center Vassar College —Poughkeepsie, NY Frederic Remington Art Museum —Ogdensburg, NY Gershon Benjamin Foundation, —Clayton, GA

—Hanover, NH T‌he Hyde Collection —Glens Falls, NY T‌he Lawrenceville School —Lawrenceville, NJ Mead Art Museum, Amherst College —Amherst, MA Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester —Rochester, NY Middlebury College Museum of Art —Middlebury, VT Mount Holyoke College Art Museum —South Hadley, MA Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute —Utica, NY Museum of Connecticut History —Hartford, CT Neuberger Museum,

Mission Statement


—Corning, NY Roland Gibson Gallery, State

‌he mission of the Williamstown Art Conservation Center, a

non-profit institution, is to protect,

University of New York

conserve and maintain the objects

—Potsdam, NY

of our cultural heritage; to provide

St. Johnsbury Athenaeum

examination, treatment, consultation

—St. Johnsbury, VT Smith College Museum of Art,

and related conservation services

—Northampton, MA

for member institutions, and for

Springfield Library and Museums

other non-profit organizations,


corporations and individuals; to

—Springfield, MA Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute

conduct educational programs with respect to the care and conservation of works of art and objects of

—Williamstown, MA Suzy Frelinghuysen and George L.K. Morris Foundation

cultural interest; to participate in the training of conservators; to promote the importance of conservation

—Lenox, MA

and increase the awareness of the

Union College —Schenectady, NY

issues pertinent to collections care;

Vermont Historical Society

and to conduct research and dis-

—Montpelier, VT

seminate knowledge to advance the

Vermont Museum and Gallery


Alliance —Shelburne, VT Williams College Museum of Art —Williamstown, MA

Purchase College, State University of New York —Purchase, NY New Hampshire Historical Society —Concord, NH New York State Office of General Services, Empire State Plaza Art Collection —Albany, NY Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge —Stockbridge, MA Picker Art Gallery, Colgate University —Hamilton, NY Portland Museum of Art —Portland, ME Preservation Society of Newport County —Newport, RI Rhode Island School of Design

Atlanta Art Conservation Center 6000 Peachtree Road Atlanta, GA 30341 Alabama Historical Commission —Montgomery, AL Booth Western Art Museum —Cartersville, GA Brenau University —Gainesville, GA Columbia Museum of Art —Columbia, SC T‌he Columbus Museum —Columbus, GA High Museum of Art —Atlanta, GA Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts —Montgomery, AL Telfair Museum of Art —Savannah, GA

Museum of Art —Providence, RI

Center (PIRC). She is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation.

22 | Art Conservator | Fall 2010

Williamstown Art Conservation Center | 23

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