THE IN-SITU CONSERVATION TREATMENT OF A NINETEENTH-CENTURY FRENCH SCENIC WALLPAPER: LES PAYSAGES DE TÉLÉMAQUE DANS L'ILE DE CALYPSO
Doris A. Hamburg
The first task at the Hermitage was to prepare a detailed condition evaluation, which provided both the necessary familiarity with the wallpaper as a physical material and an in-depth knowledge of its problems. Major design areas of each Telemachus panel were outlined and diagrammed according to various types of deterioration: tears, losses and cleavage in the paper supports, cracks in the plaster walls, flaking paint and overpaint. Tears and complete loss of primary support were found throughout the hallway. Panel edges were often lifting and there was blind cleavage between the supports and wall. The latter could be detected by lightly tapping suspect areas.
The binder in the paint had deteriorated and the paint proved very friable. Paint was flaking in major portions, both in original and restoration paints. The sky was particularly abraded. The distinction between original block-printed areas and later painted additions is readily visible in normal and ultraviolet lights. Previous inpainting and overpainting was considerable in some panels. Discernible evidence of several different artists' work indicates that some of the early restoration painting was quite competently executed, even if a little creative in design. Painting in other areas was sloppy, irreversible and ill-matched, even given the possibility that colors have altered with time. The restoration media appeared to include poster paints, tempera and casein.
Along with the diagrams, black-and-white 35 mm photographs were taken of each section of the walls, as were 35 mm color slides for detail views.