THE TREATMENT OF CHINESE ANCESTOR PORTRAITS: AN INTRODUCTION TO CHINESE PAINTING CONSERVATION TECHNIQUES
VALERIE LEE, XIANGMEI GU, & YUAN-LI HOU
1. Both textiles had been hand-dyed before being examined by Christine Giuntini, consulting textile conservator.Unpatterned silk (geng juan), warp predominant, plain weave (tabby). Counts: warp: −50 ends/cm; weft: −37 picks/cm; selvage: .5 cm width; no change in structure.Patterned silk (hua ling juan), 3/1 Ztwill damask, warp predominant. The weft face forms the pattern. Counts: warp: −50–52 ends/cm; weft: −30–31 picks/cm; selvage: .7 cm width composed of 20 ends woven in plain weave (tabby).
We would like to acknowledge the Fidelity Foundation's generous support of this two-year project. We are extremely grateful to the staff of the Freer and Sackler Galleries, especially Paul Jett, Jane Stuart, Andrew Hare, Jiro Ueda, and Akihiro Kato, and to John Winter, who provided insights on Chinese pigments, and Jai
Alterman, who carefully reviewed the manuscript. We wish to thank Christine Giuntini from the Metropolitan Museum of Art for analyzing the structure of the Chinese silk. We are also indebted to Kate Garland from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art for her editing expertise and her encouragement to publish this article; to Uta Landwehr from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, for reviewing the manuscript and kindly sharing her knowledge of mounting techniques for Chinese painting; and to Kim Nichols from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, for her invaluable editing advice and continual support.
Acker, W. R. B.1954. Some T'ang and pre-T'ang texts on Chinese painting. Leiden: E. J. Brill.
Gulik, R. H. V. 1981. Chinese pictorial art as viewed by the connoisseur. Reprint, New York: Hacker Art Books.
Petukhova, T., and S. D.Bonadies. 1993. Sturgeon glue for painting consolidation in Russia.Journal of the American Institute for Conservation32:23–31.
Stuart, J., and E. S.Rawski. 2001. Worshiping the ancestors: Chinese commemorative portraits. Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution.
Tsai, F. W., and D.Van der Reyden. 1997. Analysis of modern Chinese paper and treatment of a Chinese woodblock print.Paper Conservator21:48–62.
Wills, P.1987. New directions of the ancient kind: Conservation traditions in the Far East.The Paper Conservator11:36–38.
Winter, J.1985. Some material points in the care of East Asian paintings.International Journal of Museum Management and Curatorship4:251–64.
Hunter, D.1957. Papermaking: The history and technique of an ancient craft. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Illouz, C.1998. Conservation des peintures en Chine et au Japon: Differences techniques et culturelles.Conservation Restauration des Biens Culturels12:9–13.
Landwehr, U.2002. Chinesische hängerollbilder: Montagetechnik und typische Schadensphänomene.Restauratorenblätter22:69–79.
Lin, H.1999. Restauration de peintures et calligraphies chinoises anciennes, trans. C. Thouvenin.Conservation Restauration des Biens Culturels13:3–6.
Mullock, H.1995. Xuan paper. Paper Conservator19:23–29
Petukhova, T.1989. Potential applications of isinglass adhesive for paper conservation.Book and Paper Group Annual8:58–61.
Stuart, J.1997. Calling back the ancestor's shadow: Chinese ritual and commemorative portraits. Oriental Art63(3):8–17.
Winter, J.1984. Natural adhesives in East Asian paintings. In Adhesives and consolidants, ed.N. S.Brommelle et al. London: International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. 117–120.
Winter, J.1984. Pigments in China: A preliminary bibliography of identifications. ICOM Committee for Conservation preprints, 7th Triennal Meeting, Copenhagen. Paris: ICOM. 84. 19. 11–12.
Winter, J.1985. Paints and supports in Far Eastern pictorial art. Paper Conservator9:24–31
SOURCES OF MATERIALSKnobs, pigments, Red Star xuan papers, stone, unpatterned and patterned silks for mounts, water brush, and smoothing brush
Man Luen Choon 29-35 Wing Kut St. 2/F Harvest Building Hong Kong People's Republic of China
Methyl cellulose 1900-2200cps, isinglass, wheat starch Aytex-P
Talas 568 Broadway New York, N.Y. 10012
Mino paper, Hasegawa production, thin, 2.5 mome weight; paraffin wax (ibota); rayon paper, unwoven fabric type (fushokufu), thick/heavy weight (atsukuchi)
Nemoto Corporation 2-6-17 Tagara, Nerima-ku Tokyo 179-0073 Japan
VALERIE LEE received a B.A. in art history at the University of Paris 1 and an M.A. in paper conservation in 1996 from the Institut de Formation des Restaurateurs d'Oeuvres d'Art (ENP-IFROA) in Paris. She came to the Freer and Sackler Galleries to learn Chinese paintings conservation in 1996 with funding from the Kress Foundation and the Lavoisier Foundation. She is continuing her work there as an assistant conservator in East Asian paintings. Address: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 20560-0707
XIANGMEI GU was trained in 1972 at the Shanghai Museum, China, where she worked as a painting conservator until 1987. She worked at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1987 to 1988. She has been an East Asian paintings conservator at the Freer and Sackler Galleries since 1990. Address as for Lee.
YUAN-LI HOU was trained in 1975 at the Beijing Palace Museum, China, where she worked as a painting conservator until 1986. She joined the staff at the Freer and Sackler Galleries from 1998 to 2000 to work on the ancestor portraits. She has been an independent East Asian paintings conservator since 2000. Address: 114 Winterson Dr., Hamburg, Pa. 19526