Yearly Archives: 2011

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Paintings Conservation – the treatment of Anton Raphael Mengs, Copy of Raphael’s School of Athens

Mengs’ copy of Raphael’s School of Athens was painted in 1755 as one of a series of exemplary works for the gallery at Northumberland House. It was damaged both by a fire there in 1868 and in the subsequent salvage operation. There is minute blistering of the paint surface in places particularly the upper right area […]

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Museum to Museum

The route to museumaker and Killhope can be tracked back to early research in the fabulous stores at the V&A.

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The Helmet

The helmet was treated by Andy Thackeray, an intern in Furniture Conservation. He describes his treatment below. – Cracked and lifting lacquer on the iron substrate rim of the helmet bowl, and where lifting from the iron supporting bars of the neck plates (ita jikoro), were consolidated with an application of xylene followed by a 10% solution of Paraloid B48N in xylene. If moving they were clamped either by lightweight clamps or using a shimbari system. Cracked and lifting lacquer on the leather substrate of the ita jikoro plates was consolidated with 10% and where appropriate, 20% Mowilith 50 in …

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The head and arms

The head and arms of the Iki-ningyo were treated by Sofia Marques in sculpture conservation and Richard Mulholland in paper conservation. It appears that there is a very fine top layer applied to the flesh colour. This is possibly known as ‘nikawa’ and is made of animal glue and fine pigments. It is water soluble. The layer on the face of this living doll seems to have been disturbed, possibly during attempts to clean the surface in the past. Any intervention will disturb this layer, so it was decided not to touch it after all. Although it would have been …

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The fountain in the Grottenhof of the Residenz in Munich

Contextualising the Casts

As an intern at the V&A my main task has been locating photographs of the original sculpture that has been cast and displayed in our magnificent Cast Courts. I have scoured the V&A, starting in the Sculpture section’s image bank and then moving on to the seemingly bottomless pit of the Prints and Drawing Study […]

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Galena PbS.

I was handed a hammer and encouraged to whack the rock hard. In an instant a startling starburst flash of light glanced from the interior as it fell open.

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The trained eye of the sculpture conservator Sarah Healey

Conservation in progress

The practical work on this collection of objects is now progressing. This follows the initial assessments of the condition of each object. The conservation is split between: – a metal conservator, who looks at the electrotypes – an example is the great Baptistery doors known as the Gates of Paradise in gall. 46B, made of gilded copper: […]

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Storage Conversations

If you’ve recently been to the V&A and walked over the Gilbert Bayes Gallery of Sculpture which runs mid-height between the two Cast Courts, you will have seen that the Italian side has been cleared of the majority of its casts. This was done to both protect the objects from the renovation works and to […]

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Martin with the School of Athens

Tender Loving Care for a ‘well-behaved painting’

This week, I am introducing you to Martin Welsh, one of the technicians working on the Cast Court project and whose ‘magic’ operates in the beautiful frame-supports he builds to facilitate object moves and safe storage. Martin joined the V&A in November 2010, after spending three and a half years building exhibitions at the Imperial […]

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All Change

Approaching the second anniversary of the opening of the Medieval & Renaissance Galleries, we have some exciting new arrivals to the galleries on long loan from Her Majesty the Queen – three magnificent bronze busts by Leone Leoni (1509-1590), one of the great unsung heroes of Italian Renaissance sculpture. The busts, installed in late September, […]

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