Robin Hanson, Conservator of Textiles and Sarah Scaturro, Eric and Jane Nord Chief Conservator
For the exhibition Cycles of Life: The Four Seasons Tapestries, the CMA’s Textile Conservator Robin Hanson and Main Conservator Sarah Scaturro took on twin roles — that of exhibition curators as nicely as conservators. This set of 4 tapestries, woven in Paris in the mid-to late 1700s, is dependent on Flemish styles from 100 decades previously. Woven of silk, wool, and steel threads, the tapestries selection in dimension from eight-and-a-50 percent-ft sq. to 8 by nearly 13 feet.
This venture commenced 15 many years back when Robin participated in a three-working day study of 36 tapestries in Cleveland’s collection along with Belgian tapestry qualified Yvan Maes De Wit. The goal of this study was to rank the tapestries in the selection by top quality, and then to decide the quantity of conservation treatment important to make them all set for exhibition. Primarily based on that study, the Four Seasons Tapestries had been selected as the best precedence for therapy. Two Grasp of Artwork candidates in the joint CMA/CWRU Art Historical past and Museum Research undertook art historic exploration on the tapestries. Their analysis helped to further more confirm this set’s importance and deliver information and facts that is now out there to the general public by means of our Selection On the web platform.
After funding was secured to address them, these four tapestries, alongside with 4 other individuals in the assortment, have been despatched to Mechelen, Belgium, in May possibly 2018 for procedure at Royal Companies De Wit all eight returned to Cleveland in September 2019 when cure was entire. Although the CMA has a textile conservation lab on-site, managing tapestries necessitates a substantial area, specialized gear, and a team of textile conservators experienced in tapestry conservation to undertake the treatment method. Dealing with the tapestries in Cleveland’s textile lab would not have been feasible. Cleveland’s relationship with De Wit extends again to the late 1990s, when the set of 8 Dido and Aeneas tapestries on display screen in the Armor Court docket (fig. 2) was sent to Mechelen for cure. Since then, 20 tapestries in Cleveland’s assortment have now been handled by De Wit.
De Wit utilizes a two-phase stitching approach. 1st, weak regions are stabilized to strengthen the tapestry by inserting patches of cotton or linen driving regions of loss. Exposed warps are stitched to the patch using a matching thread. Occasionally the patches are smaller, but at times they may possibly address large sections if an spot is especially destroyed. Then comes restoration — which is the addition of new components to visually entire an spot. New thread is stitched on prime of the patches to full 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 original components of the tapestry from restorations. You see right here the system: on the left is the harmed space, in the center the decline has been stabilized, and on the right you see the restored region (figs. 3a–c).
In addition to conservation therapy by itself, conservators undertake penned and photographic documentation of objects currently being handled, both equally in advance of remedy starts, all through cure, and just after treatment is total. They also undertake complex assessment to superior recognize the objects they are managing. The wool and silk threads have been identified using a polarized gentle microscope. Dye examination was done in collaboration with the conservation experts at the Indianapolis Museum of Artwork at Newfields. Experts recognized pure dyes sourced from both vegetation and insects that are indicative of components in use through the time the tapestries ended up made. In the same way, the metal threads were being analyzed at the Swagelok Center for Floor Assessment of Components, located within just the School of Engineering at Scenario Western Reserve College. 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 all over a silk core, which is a standard building for metal threads in the 1700s (figs. 4b and 4c).These collaborations extend Cleveland’s capabilities in the realm of scientific assessment, and in the long run advantage all the establishments associated via the sharing of know-how.