Robin Hanson, Conservator of Textiles and Sarah Scaturro, Eric and Jane Nord Chief Conservator
For the exhibition Cycles of Lifestyle: The 4 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 4 tapestries, woven in Paris in the mid-to late 1700s, is dependent on Flemish patterns from 100 several years before. Woven of silk, wool, and metallic threads, the tapestries assortment in dimensions from eight-and-a-50 %-toes sq. to eight by virtually 13 toes.
This project began 15 many years back when Robin participated in a a few-day study of 36 tapestries in Cleveland’s collection along with Belgian tapestry professional Yvan Maes De Wit. The target of this study was to rank the tapestries in the assortment by excellent, and then to figure out the sum of conservation treatment important to make them prepared for exhibition. Based mostly on that survey, the Four Seasons Tapestries had been picked as the greatest precedence for procedure. Two Grasp of Art candidates in the joint CMA/CWRU Art Heritage and Museum Reports undertook art historical exploration on the tapestries. Their investigate aided to further more verify this set’s significance and provide facts that is now readily available to the public through our Selection On-line system.
The moment funding was secured to handle them, these four tapestries, together with four many others in the assortment, have been sent to Mechelen, Belgium, in May 2018 for treatment at Royal Brands De Wit all eight returned to Cleveland in September 2019 once remedy was full. Even though the CMA has a textile conservation lab on-web page, dealing with tapestries necessitates a large space, specialized tools, and a group of textile conservators educated in tapestry conservation to undertake the procedure. Dealing with the tapestries in Cleveland’s textile lab would not have been possible. Cleveland’s partnership with De Wit extends back again to the late 1990s, when the set of 8 Dido and Aeneas tapestries on display in the Armor Court docket (fig. 2) was sent to Mechelen for remedy. Since then, 20 tapestries in Cleveland’s assortment have now been addressed by De Wit.
De Wit takes advantage of a two-stage stitching system. Very first, weak places are stabilized to strengthen the tapestry by placing patches of cotton or linen guiding locations of loss. Exposed warps are stitched to the patch applying a matching thread. Sometimes the patches are compact, but at times they may possibly protect substantial sections if an spot is specially harmed. Then will come restoration — which is the addition of new resources to visually finish an space. New thread is stitched on major of the patches to entire the photo. When seen from afar, the repairs are harmonious and practically indiscernible, but if seen up shut, the new stitches are visually different, enabling viewers to differentiate unique sections of the tapestry from restorations. You see below the procedure: on the remaining is the harmed region, in the center the loss has been stabilized, and on the right you see the restored region (figs. 3a–c).
In addition to conservation treatment method itself, conservators undertake written and photographic documentation of objects being treated, equally ahead of procedure commences, throughout treatment method, and just after remedy is entire. They also undertake specialized investigation to far better understand the objects they are treating. The wool and silk threads were being determined utilizing a polarized gentle microscope. Dye examination was accomplished in collaboration with the conservation researchers at the Indianapolis Museum of Artwork at Newfields. Scientists recognized normal dyes sourced from both equally vegetation and insects that are indicative of products in use through the time the tapestries ended up created. Equally, the metal threads had been analyzed at the Swagelok Heart for Surface Evaluation of Components, located in just the Faculty of Engineering at Scenario Western Reserve University. Scanning Electron Microscopy with Electrical power Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (SEM-EDS) detected a silver and gold alloy with trace amounts of copper in the metallic strips wrapped all-around a silk main, which is a common development for metallic threads in the 1700s (figs. 4b and 4c).These collaborations extend Cleveland’s capabilities in the realm of scientific assessment, and eventually benefit all the institutions included through the sharing of awareness.