THE CONSERVATION OF THE VAN RENSSELAER WALLPAPER
Reynolds, Marcus T. “The Colonial Buildings of Rensselaerwyck,” The Architectural Record. vol. IV, July 1894–July 1895, p. 416f.
Ibid., p. 434. American Wing, van Rensselaer file correspondance from Marcus T. Reynolds, 1931. One was the Sigma Phi Society Society at Williams College, the other the home of Mrs. William Bayard van Rensselaer in Albany. In 1928, Mrs. van Rensselaer gave the museum this woodwork.
Donnell, Edna. “The van Rensselaer Wall Paper and J.B. Jackson. A Study in Disassociation,” Metropolitan Museum Studies. v. 4, 1932–33, p. 80, 90–92.
Ibid., p. 81. Donnell states that traces of under-painting confirm this theory; however, such was not found in the course of conservation.
Ralston, Ruth. “The American Wing: An Addition Containing the Great Hall from the van Rensselaer Manor House,” Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dec. 1931, p. 8.
In his book, Jackson boasts of his invention of printing in oil with wooden blocks worked by a rolling press which would withstand fading and discoloration as opposed to papers printed in watercolor. The colors “being done in oil will never fly off. By this means the same beauty continues as long as the paper can hold together, whereas that done with watercolors in the common way, six months makes a very visible alteration…and in one year it becomes a disgrace to the very wall it covers.” He also claimed his papers were waterproof and damp proof. The book was published in London, 1754.
Donnell. op. cit. p. 94f.
The iron oxide pigment which also contained silica from the quartz and calcium from the calcite extender could not be determined conclusively.
Donnell, Edna. “The van Rensselaer Painted Wallpaper,” Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, II. Dec. 1931, p. 15
Gettens, Rutherford J., and Stout, George L.Painting Materials; A Short Encyclopedia(Dover), Toronto, 1966, p. 97.
Sugden, Alan Edmondson, and Ludlam, John. A History of English Wallpaper 1509–1914. London, 1925, p. 47–49. Donnell. Metropolitan Museum Studies, op. cit. p. 81for a discussion of this stamp.
Files of the American Wing 28.224. Correspondance dated Oct. 12, 1927 from Reynolds to Robert de Forrest of the Metropolitan Museum. Reynolds wrote that he persuaded Dr. Howard van Rensselaer to salvage the paper.
McClelland, Nancy. Historic Wall-Papers from their Inception to the Introduction of Machinery. Philadelphia, 1924, p. 149.
American Wing files 28.224, Thomas Hun letter to Charles Cornelius, Dec. 18, 1926.
American Wing files 28.224. Estimate from James B. Wilson, 321 East 63rd St., New York, July 24, 1928, “Estimate for mounting of van Rensselaer panels on special prepared canvas for hanging for the sum of $400.00 (Restoration not included).” No other bills or treatment reports concerning the wallpaper exist. Donnell, MM Studies, op. cit., p. 80,81 states that the “paper has twice been remounted, once when it was removed from the walls of the Manor House and again about two years ago.” No evidence of the first mounting was revealed during treatment.
Enzyme solution: 6g diastase, 4.5 g pancreatin to 1 litre deionized water at room temperature.
The paste formulation was 30 percent sodium carboxymethyl cellulose (2.4 percent solution) and 70 percent wheat paste (approximately 5 percent solution).
I wish to thank Merritt Safford for his advice and encouragement throughout this project, Eric Harding of the British Museum for introducing me to the soluble nylon facing technique, Suzanne Duff and Karl Buchberg for their invaluable work, and the members of the Paper Conservation Department at the Metropolitan Museum for their assistance.