Robin Hanson, Conservator of Textiles and Sarah Scaturro, Eric and Jane Nord Chief Conservator
For the exhibition Cycles of Lifestyle: The Four Seasons Tapestries, the CMA’s Textile Conservator Robin Hanson and Chief Conservator Sarah Scaturro took on dual roles — that of exhibition curators as effectively as conservators. This established of four tapestries, woven in Paris in the mid-to late 1700s, is based on Flemish models from 100 many years before. Woven of silk, wool, and metal threads, the tapestries vary in size from 8-and-a-fifty percent-ft sq. to 8 by just about 13 feet.
This venture commenced 15 years back when Robin participated in a a few-working day survey of 36 tapestries in Cleveland’s assortment alongside with Belgian tapestry skilled Yvan Maes De Wit. The aim of this survey was to rank the tapestries in the selection by excellent, and then to determine the amount of money of conservation treatment method essential to make them prepared for exhibition. Based mostly on that survey, the 4 Seasons Tapestries have been chosen as the highest precedence for therapy. Two Grasp of Artwork candidates in the joint CMA/CWRU Art Heritage and Museum Studies undertook art historical study on the tapestries. Their investigate served to further more affirm this set’s worth and provide facts that is now obtainable to the general public by our Assortment Online system.
At the time funding was secured to address them, these 4 tapestries, along with 4 other individuals in the collection, ended up sent to Mechelen, Belgium, in May 2018 for cure at Royal Suppliers De Wit all eight returned to Cleveland in September 2019 once remedy was finish. Although the CMA has a textile conservation lab on-internet site, dealing with tapestries demands a massive house, specialized products, and a group of textile conservators skilled in tapestry conservation to undertake the cure. Treating the tapestries in Cleveland’s textile lab would not have been attainable. Cleveland’s romantic relationship with De Wit extends again to the late 1990s, when the set of eight Dido and Aeneas tapestries on display screen in the Armor Court (fig. 2) was despatched to Mechelen for treatment method. Considering that then, 20 tapestries in Cleveland’s assortment have now been dealt with by De Wit.
De Wit employs a two-action stitching course of action. To start with, weak regions are stabilized to reinforce the tapestry by inserting patches of cotton or linen guiding locations of reduction. Uncovered warps are stitched to the patch utilizing a matching thread. In some cases the patches are modest, but often they may possibly cover large sections if an place is specially ruined. Then will come restoration — which is the addition of new components to visually comprehensive an area. New thread is stitched on top of the patches to total the image. When viewed from afar, the repairs are harmonious and nearly indiscernible, but if viewed up near, the new stitches are visually unique, enabling viewers to differentiate authentic parts of the tapestry from restorations. You see listed here the system: on the left is the damaged region, in the center the reduction has been stabilized, and on the suitable you see the restored place (figs. 3a–c).
In addition to conservation remedy alone, conservators undertake created and photographic documentation of objects being addressed, both prior to procedure begins, for the duration of treatment, and soon after procedure is total. They also undertake specialized investigation to improved fully grasp the objects they are managing. The wool and silk threads were being discovered making use of a polarized mild microscope. Dye examination was completed in collaboration with the conservation scientists at the Indianapolis Museum of Artwork at Newfields. Experts identified natural dyes sourced from both vegetation and insects that are indicative of resources in use in the course of the time the tapestries were created. Equally, the metal threads have been analyzed at the Swagelok Heart for Surface area Evaluation of Products, found in the School of Engineering at Scenario Western Reserve University. Scanning Electron Microscopy with Power Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (SEM-EDS) detected a silver and gold alloy with trace amounts of copper in the steel strips wrapped around a silk main, which is a typical building for metal threads in the 1700s (figs. 4b and 4c).These collaborations extend Cleveland’s abilities in the realm of scientific analysis, and ultimately advantage all the establishments involved via the sharing of information.