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The 'Flowerpot', Design from Morris & Company, The William Morris Society (Use of images by permission of the William Morris Society)       

This work was part of a series of 11 designs from Morris & Company, belonging to the William Morris Society. This design is a preparatory study for an embroidery; half the image was painted with watercolours while the other half was left unpainted where the under drawing is visible. The work was executed on cartridge paper and the Morris & Company stamp can be seen on the linen backing.

The paper had numerous tears, pin holes and a previous repair along the bottom margin. There were multiple creases and bulges, probably caused during the pasting of the linen backing, which is now dirty, discoloured, acidic and has foxing marks scattered all over it. 

The conservation treatment involved separating the design from the linen, which was then washed and deacidified on the suction table. The design was repaired, humidified and pressed. The linen backing was then reattached to the work using hinges around the border. Interestingly, when the previous repair along the bottom margin of the design was removed an inscription was revealed.

'The Lamb', design from Morris & Company (The William Morris Society)

This is another design for embroidery from the series belonging to the William Morris Society (see above). This example is graphite with black and brown ink on a thick cartridge, which is a heavily sized machine-made paper. A linen backing had previously been pasted onto the back of the design using an adhesive made with a mixture of flour and animal glue. The design shows general discolouration, numerous tears, pin holes, folds and creases. The conservation treatment involved removing the linen backing, which was dirty and lifting away from the paper, and washing and deacidifying it on the suction table. The design was repaired, humidified and pressed and the linen was reattached to the work using hinges all around the border.  

'A Lady and the Coffee Pot', by Jawad Salim, private collection         

For many years, this art work was kept rolled up in a dry place and as a consequence the paper has turned brittle and breaks very easily.   In such a condition it was highly risky to try and unroll the work.  But after a few sessions under humidification the paper started to give and we were finally able to open it and assess it.

The drawing was executed in graphite, ink and wash on machine made paper. Preliminary testing showed that some of the pigments were sensitive to moisture and this finding determined the conservation treatment. The work presented the following damage: brittleness, discolouration (visible on verso), faded pigments (visible along bottom border) flaking pigments (on the face area), missing parts.

The treatment involved joining the pieces together with Japanese tissue and paste; consolidating the flaking pigments; two linings with Japanese paper and wheat starch paste; filling in the missing areas; retouching the repairs; humidification; stretching and mounting.


'Serving Tea', Chinese Watercolour on Pith Paper         

This gouache made circa 1840 by an unknwon artis was painted on 'pith' paper, a material produced in China from cutting round the inner bark of a small tree (tetrapanax).  It is a very fragile material, and due to its honeycomb structure, it can be easily dented and scratched. This charming painting was in very poor condition.  It was torn along the centre and a self adhesive tape had been used to repair it. There were numerous small tears and missing areas around the margins, with mould spores visible along the bottom. The treatment involved removing the tape; removing the mould spores; lining with a very thin tissue and mounting the work without the use of adhesives.

Wyndham Lewis, ‘Portrait of a Lady’ (Naomi Mitchison), 1935, private collection (Image by permission of the Wyndham Lewis Memorial Trust)

This drawing was executed in graphite and watercolour on wove machine-made paper.  It was in very poor condition due to poor mounting methods.  The drawing was fixed to the window mount with self adhesive tapes and the verso was in direct contact with an acidic backing board.  Over time, the paper darkened due to acid migration, with the exception of the areas covered by the tapes. 

The treatment involved the removal of the self adhesive tapes, washing and bleaching on the suction table

Gallerie Hummel

This project involved a series of 90 architectural drawings from the Otto Wagner School/Office.  Most of the items were working drawings on transparent paper from the period 1895 to 1910. 

They had many tears, pin holes, missing areas, surface dirt, creases and undulations.  

The conservation approach to treating this work was minimal, so only minor remedial repairs were done.  Mounting was the main priority and it was done to museum standards, using an inlaying paper to support the work with hinges made of Japanese paper.

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