CONSERVATION OF THE DARNAULT MIRROR: AN ACRYLIC EMULSION COMPENSATION SYSTEM
CYNTHIA MOYER, & GORDON HANLON
1. Further research on the Darnault family is found in Sargentson (1996).
2. For illustration, see figure 174 in Kimball ( 1980), showing an elevation from the chambre de la Reine at Versailles dated 1730, with a mirror above soubasement paneling and a console table in front, much the way the Getty Darnault mirror would have been displayed. Another illustration, figure 232, also from Kimball shows another elevation from Versailles from the chambre de Louis XV. In addition, illustrations from Blondel ( 1967) show a design for a mirror with a painting above, which is flanked by two narrow parcloses (73, pl. 67) and a mirror with a similar palm frond motif as the Getty Darnault mirror (72, pl. 64).
3. The palm frond mirror currently in the salon ovale du prince de Soubise from the Hotel Soubise in Paris, which is now used by the Archives Nationales, has recently been restored and looks as the Darnault mirror must have originally looked.
4. Test results showed the ground to include whiting and both protein and traces of oil. The overpaint on the carved moldings was found to be protein based. Recommendations for cleaning included trying an acetone gel and a xylene gel (Wolbers 1992).
5. The mock-up was made of a gesso consisting of overcooked glue soaked in water and heated in a microwave oven, which theoretically simulated the permeability of aged gesso. Arkon P-90 in 15%, 45%, and 90% strengths pigmented with yellow ochre was applied to this gesso to determine depth of penetration of the coating. The rabbit skin glue added as a consolidant prior to the Arkon prevented this low molecular weight resin from penetrating too much. A 45% solution of Arkon P-90 was chosen for its viscosity and low penetrability.
6. Equal parts of mineral spirits and water are shaken together with a few drops of Triton X-100, and the top half is decanted and used to clean the water gilding. It is mostly mineral spirits with very little water (Wolbers 1994).
7. Between the topmost white layer and the original were more than eight layers of paint campaigns, including light blues and greens, some bound in oil and/or protein with one layer being water-soluble.
Blondel, J. F.  1967. De la distribution des maisons de plaisance, et de la decoration des edifices en general, vol. 1. London: Gregg Press.
Horie, C. V.1987. Materials for conservation: Organic consolidants, adhesives and coatings. London: Butterworths.
Kimball, F.  1980. The creation of the rococo decorative style. New York: Dover.
Ravenel, N.1994. Conservation of the Darnault mirror: Striking a balance. Loss compensation: Technical and philosophical issues, Objects Specialty Subgroup Postprints. American Institute for Conservation 22d Annual Meeting, Nashville. Washington, D.C.: AIC. 115–21.
Sargentson, C.1996. Merchants and luxury markets: The marchand merciers of Eighteenth-century Paris. London: Victoria and Albert Museum in association with the J. Paul Getty Museum.
Thornton, J.1991. The use of nontraditional gilding methods and materials in conservation. In Gilded wood: Conservation and history, ed.D.Bigelow et al. Madison, Conn.: Sound View Press. 217–28.
Wolbers, R.1992. Notes on fluorescent microscopy analysis. J. Paul Getty Museum. August 21.
Wolbers, R.1994. Personal communication. Associate Professor, University of Delaware, 303 Old College, Newark, Del. 19716.
Cession, C.1988. Les polychromies baroques et rococos du XVIIIe Siecle. Travail de fin d'etude, La Cambre, Brussels.
Derrick, M., L.Souza, T.Kieslich, H.Florsheim, and D.Stulik. 1994. Embedding paint cross section samples in polyester resins: Problems and solutions. Journal of the American Institute for Conservation33: 227–45.
Gettens, R. J., and G.L.Stout. 1996. Painting materials. New York: Dover.
Moyer, C.1991. Conservation treatments for border and freehand gilding and bronze-powder stencilling and freehand bronze. In Gilded wood: Conservation and history, ed.D.Bigelow et al. Madison, Conn.: Sound View Press. 331–41.
Pradere, A.1989. French furniture makers: The art of the ébeniste from Louis XIV to the Revolution, trans. P.Wood. Malibu, Calif.: J. Paul Getty Museum.
Watin, J. F.  1787. L'art du peintre, doreur, vernisseur, 4th ed.Paris, n.p.
Wolbers, R. and G.Landrey. 1987. The use of direct reactive fluorescent dyes for the characterization of binding media in cross-sectional examinations. AIC preprints, American Institute for Conservation 15th Annual Meeting, Vancouver. Washington D.C.: AIC. 168–202.
SOURCES OF MATERIALSLiquitex acrylic mediums
Binney and Smith, 1100 Church Lane, P.O. Box 431, Easton, Pa. 18044–0431Soluvar matte acrylic resin
Binney and Smith, 1100 Church Lane, P.O. Box 431, Easton, Pa. 18044–0431Instacoll
Kolner-GlanzGold-Grund, Germany, Available from Sepp Leaf Products, 381 Park Ave. So., New York, N.Y. 10016Rhoplex AC-33, Rhoplex N-580
Rohm and Haas Co., Philadelphia, Pa., Distributed by Conservation Materials, Ltd., 240 Freeport Blvd., P. O. Box 2884, Sparks, Nev. 89432Polyfilla, fine surface
Polycell Products, Ltd., Broadwater Rd., Welwyn Garden City, Herts AL7 3AZ, England
CYNTHIA MOYER graduated with a B.A. in anthropology and sociology in 1975 from William Smith College. She served apprenticeships in the furniture restoration field in Philadelphia and New York. In 1977 she established a private restoration and conservation practice and for 16 years specialized in gilding and finishes. From 1979 through 1993 she worked primarily for Richard H. Jenrette, collector of American classical furniture and houses. She is a contributing author of the book Gilded wood: Conservation and history and has been an instructor in gilding for the Smithsonian Furniture Conservation Training Program at the Smithsonian Institution Conservation Analytical Laboratory. She has been under contract as an assistant conservator in the Department of Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the J. Paul Getty Museum since 1993, specializing in gilding conservation. Address: J. Paul Getty Museum, P.O. Box 2112, Santa Monica, Calif. 90407-2112.
GORDON HANLON received his B.A. in biology from the University of York, England, in 1979. From 1980 to 1984 he was assistant curator of road and transport and agricultural implements at the Museum of Science and Technology, London. In 1984 he started a four-year studentship at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, specializing in the conservation of furniture and gilded objects. In 1988 he joined the J. Paul Getty Museum as an intern, and he is now associate conservator in the Department of Decorative Arts and Sculpture, specializing in the conservation of gilded furniture. Address: J. Paul Getty Museum, P.O. Box 2112, Santa Monica, Calif. 90407–2112.