Robin Hanson, Conservator of Textiles and Sarah Scaturro, Eric and Jane Nord Main Conservator
For the exhibition Cycles of Daily life: The 4 Seasons Tapestries, the CMA’s Textile Conservator Robin Hanson and Main Conservator Sarah Scaturro took on dual roles — that of exhibition curators as nicely as conservators. This established of four tapestries, woven in Paris in the mid-to late 1700s, is based mostly on Flemish types from 100 many years before. Woven of silk, wool, and metal threads, the tapestries array in sizing from 8-and-a-fifty percent-feet sq. to eight by just about 13 ft.
This job started 15 several years ago when Robin participated in a 3-working day survey of 36 tapestries in Cleveland’s assortment alongside with Belgian tapestry qualified Yvan Maes De Wit. The goal of this study was to rank the tapestries in the selection by high quality, and then to establish the total of conservation remedy vital to make them prepared for exhibition. Dependent on that study, the Four Seasons Tapestries have been selected as the highest priority for treatment. Two Master of Art candidates in the joint CMA/CWRU Artwork Background and Museum Studies undertook artwork historical investigate on the tapestries. Their investigation assisted to further more ensure this set’s relevance and deliver information that is now offered to the community via our Selection On the net system.
Once funding was secured to handle them, these four tapestries, alongside with 4 other folks in the selection, were being despatched to Mechelen, Belgium, in Might 2018 for cure at Royal Companies De Wit all eight returned to Cleveland in September 2019 when cure was entire. Despite the fact that the CMA has a textile conservation lab on-site, treating tapestries demands a substantial area, specialized machines, and a staff of textile conservators properly trained in tapestry conservation to undertake the therapy. Dealing with the tapestries in Cleveland’s textile lab would not have been doable. Cleveland’s marriage with De Wit extends back again to the late 1990s, when the set of eight Dido and Aeneas tapestries on show in the Armor Court docket (fig. 2) was despatched to Mechelen for treatment. Due to the fact then, 20 tapestries in Cleveland’s selection have now been addressed by De Wit.
De Wit employs a two-phase stitching method. Initially, weak areas are stabilized to strengthen the tapestry by inserting patches of cotton or linen driving spots of reduction. Uncovered warps are stitched to the patch applying a matching thread. At times the patches are smaller, but once in a while they could possibly deal with substantial sections if an place is especially ruined. Then arrives restoration — which is the addition of new supplies to visually comprehensive an location. New thread is stitched on top of the patches to entire the photograph. When seen from afar, the repairs are harmonious and just about indiscernible, but if viewed up near, the new stitches are visually various, enabling viewers to differentiate authentic sections of the tapestry from restorations. You see right here the method: on the remaining is the ruined region, in the center the reduction has been stabilized, and on the right you see the restored location (figs. 3a–c).
In addition to conservation remedy itself, conservators undertake created and photographic documentation of objects being handled, each ahead of remedy commences, during treatment, and right after cure is full. They also undertake complex examination to far better realize the objects they are dealing with. The wool and silk threads were discovered working with a polarized light-weight microscope. Dye investigation was completed in collaboration with the conservation researchers at the Indianapolis Museum of Artwork at Newfields. Scientists identified normal dyes sourced from each plants and insects that are indicative of elements in use for the duration of the time the tapestries ended up built. Similarly, the metallic threads have been analyzed at the Swagelok Middle for Floor Analysis of Resources, located inside of the School of Engineering at Circumstance Western Reserve College. 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 steel strips wrapped about a silk core, which is a usual development for metal threads in the 1700s (figs. 4b and 4c).These collaborations lengthen Cleveland’s abilities in the realm of scientific examination, and finally gain all the establishments associated as a result of the sharing of expertise.