JAIC 1993, Volume 32, Number 3, Article 5 (pp. 271 to 278)
JAIC online
Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 1993, Volume 32, Number 3, Article 5 (pp. 271 to 278)

HISTORIC UPHOLSTERY: A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON TREATMENT

ELIZABETH LAHIKAINEN



4 HISTORICAL ACCURACY IN REINTERPRETATION

Full understanding of upholstery materials and technology is critical to achieving a correct form if rebuilding or reupholstery is part of treatment. Upholstery conservation that goes beyond stabilization of existing materials requires historical knowledge, especially if the missing parts are to be put back in a historically accurate way. Rebuilding upholstered areas requires specialized skills in upholstery. These skills and an understanding of the upholstery process become critical in reconstructing an under-upholstery, especially from alternative materials like plastics, if the curatorial demands of historically accurate forms are to be met.

An object does not often retain enough information to enable conclusions to be drawn regarding form and fabric. Interpreting the aesthetics of the piece accurately and rebuilding an upholstered shape or choosing an appropriate replacement fabric will require reference to historical documents. Probate records sometimes list types of fabrics popular in a given time or region. Letters often contain lavish descriptions of interiors. Guides and publications contemporary to the object may contain information about styles and colors in fashion at a given time, and they may include technical instruction. Paintings and drawings contribute a great deal of visual data that illuminate understanding of written material and evidence found on the piece. Many resources, especially current research and publications, could and should be explored to achieve an accurate historical interpretation.


Copyright 1993 American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works