THE TREATMENT OF AN ODILON REDON CHINE COLLÉ LITHOGRAPH, L'ART CELESTE
A conventional approach proved unsuitable for the treatment of this chine collé print. The hygroscopic character of the papers restricted the treatment procedures that could be utilized and dictated a two-phased approach to achieve treatment objectives. With a combination of humidification and flattening techniques, the different moisture sensitivity of the chine and plate paper was used to advantage to achieve the appropriate alteration of the size and shape of the two sheets in gradual increments. However, in adhering the two sheets together, their moisture sensitivity and concurrent dimensional instability had to be circumvented. A simple, dry method for readhering the separated parts of the chine collé print was developed. This method utilizes a solvent-soluble cellulose ether adhesive, applied to the reverse of the chine, which is reactivated while the object is held in registration by vacuum pressure on the suction table. These treatment methods, successfully used to readhere the chine and plate paper of a chine collé print, may also have application in the treatment of other moisture-sensitive paper objects.
Nowhere are paper's properties of expansion and contraction more evident than in the treatment of chine collé. Therefore, an understanding of the treatment of these objects broadens one's knowledge of papers in general. An empirical understanding of the properties of the object combined with a careful, considered approach to the planning of treatment procedures were the keys to the success of this treatment. By viewing setbacks in the treatment process as opportunities to gain a greater understanding of the properties of the object, the author was able to continually reassess and reshape the treatment process. This approach resulted, ultimately, in the successful realignment and reattachment of the chine and plate paper forming Redon's L'Art Celeste.
This project was completed while the author was a Getty Fellow at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The author gratefully acknowledges the Getty Grant Program, Santa Monica, California, the University of Canberra, and support from the National Film and Sound Archive and other Australian cultural institutions. The author also gratefully acknowledges the advice and assistance of the paper conservators at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco: Pauline Mohr, Janice Mae Schopfer, and particularly Debra Evans and Bob Futernick, whose help with the editing of this paper was invaluable.