THE CONSERVATION OF A PAINTED BALTIMORE SIDECHAIR (ca. 1815) ATTRIBUTED TO JOHN AND HUGH FINLAY
PETER L. FODERA, KENNETH N. NEEDLEMAN, & JOHN L. VITAGLIANO
1. In a note written in the summer of 1809 to Mr. Finlay, Latrobe states, “Within are the drawings of the chairs. The drawings of the sofas will follow in a day or two.” The bill dated September 16, 1809, states that the completed furniture was “made to a Grecian Model, painted, gilded and varnished” (quoted in Weidman 1993, 90). On this basis, it appears the entire 42-piece White House suite was probably executed in a matter of a few months, a testimony to the efficiency of the Finlay studio.
2. The surface coatings on the card table are clear and relatively lean and do not obscure the yellow color. A lower-lying “glaze” is applied in a manner that gives the illusion of a grained wood surface. This technique is very subtle and appears to have been accomplished through a variation in thickness rather than in color. The glaze is applied on the yellow areas and does not cover the design elements.
3. Berry Tracy' s approach to presenting furniture and historic surfaces in general, while not set down by him in writing, is well known through his involvement with many noteworthy projects, including the Boscobel restoration and his curatorial activities at the Newark Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He believed in renewing the surfaces of pieces so that they appeared almost new and did not place a high value on allowing furniture to display a history of use and wear.
4. Note that samples 1 and 2 had been embedded in epoxy during Wypyski's analysis in 1994. In his 1995 analysis of the samples, Martin determined their layers to be too thin to be selectively sampled for binding media analysis, and information regarding the binding media was therefore not obtained.
5. A research file of newspaper advertisements at the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts contains a notice from the March 23, 1812, edition of the Federal Republican and Commercial Gazette, which states: “BRILLIANT YELLOW. / The Newly Discovered Pigment, called / CHROMIC YELLOW, / Manufactured by CHILTON & JARVIS, N.York / is for sale at / No. 26 Water-street, Baltimore / It has the advantage of other Yellows, by standing / better, drying better, and being more bright.” This 1812 advertisement of the pigment's manufacture in New York and its availability in Baltimore predates the 1814–16 date of production of chrome pigments in England, reported by Kuhn and Curran in 1986. It seems highly unlikely that the Finlays would not have known of this local source of chrome yellow and further suggests the pigment was in use as early as 1812.
6. As of June 1997, Rohm & Hass has changed the name of Acryloid to Paraloid for all of North America as well as Europe.
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Kuhn, H., and M.Curran.1986. Chrome yellow and other chromate pigments. In Artists' pigments: A handbook of their history and characteristics, ed.R.Feller.Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art and Cambridge University Press. 187–200.
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Lyle, C. T.1993. Foreword. In G. Weidman and J. F. Goldsborough, with R. L. Alexander, S. T. Colwill, M. E. Hayward, and C. A. Rogers, Classical Maryland 1815–1845. Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society. N.P.
Martin, J.1995. Analytical report 95-TS-193. Williamstown Art Conservation Center, Williamstown, Mass.
Weidman, G.1993. The furniture of classical Maryland, 1815–1845. In G. Weidman and J. F. Goldsborough, with R. L. Alexander, S. T. Colwill, M. E. Hayward, and C. A. Rogers, Classical Maryland 1815–1845, Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society. 89–110.
Wypyski, M.1994. Analytical report. Nesconset, N.Y.: Mark T. Wypyski.
PETER L. FODERA received a B.A. in art history in 1969 and an M.S. in science and art in 1975 from Queens College, New York, N.Y. He was the recipient of Kress Foundation Grants in 1979–81 to study conservation under Gustav Berger at Berger Art Conservation, New York, where he was employed for five years. He coordinated the conservation of the Vanderlyn Panorama at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1981–83) under Berger Art Conservation. Address: Fodera Fine Art Conservation, Ltd., 24 W. 30th St., New York, N.Y. 10001.
KENNETH N. NEEDLEMAN received a B.A. in fine art and chemistry from Union College, Schenectady, N.Y. In 1979 he studied at the Istituto per l'Arte e Il Restauro in Florence. In 1982–83 he worked under Gustav Berger and Peter Fodera on the conservation of the Vanderlyn Panorama at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He has been associated with Fodera Fine Art Conservation, Ltd., since 1984. Address as for Fodera.
JOHN L. VITAGLIANO received an M.A. and certificate of advanced study in conservation in 1993 from the State University College at Buffalo. He has been associated with Fodera Fine Art Conservation, Ltd., since 1993. Address as for Fodera.