WALLPAPER CONSERVATION AT THE LONGFELLOW NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE: PARLOR AND DINING ROOM
Elizabeth Kaiser Schulte
DURING the summer of 1977, three graduate fellows from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Art Conservation Program, Laura Juszczak, P. Christine King Young and I, conserved the wallpaper in the dining room and parlor of the Longfellow National Historic Site in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Anne Clapp, Paper Conservator of the Henry Francis DuPont Winterthur Museum, surveyed the wallpaper prior to the project. Based on her survey, it was decided to treat the paper in situ. In many areas, the wallpapers, which were not backed, were so firmly adhered that removal would have created too high a risk of damage. Also time constraints favored in situ treatment.
Both of the wallpapers were machine printed. The dining room wallpaper, installed during the 1880's, shows the influence of Charles Eastlake, the Victorian aesthete. It contains a stylized floral design printed in brown paint with a linear background ornamentation of gold metallic paint. The support is rag paper, composed primarily of linen fibers. The parlor paper, supposedly selected by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's wife, Fanny, was installed sometime between 1844 and 1846 following their 1843 wedding. Its naturalistic design, characteristic of the Roccoco Revival, contains a large floral pattern printed primarily in red, green and grey balanced by grey and white ribbon scrolling. Its support is composed of bast fibers, probably hemp or ramie. This paper was hung over an older paper of Chinese origin which depicts a landscape. The chief pigment used in the older paper's design was malachite, and paper mulberry fibers comprise its support.