Cycles of Life: The Four Seasons Tapestries | by Cleveland Museum of Art | CMA Thinker

Robin Hanson, Conservator of Textiles and Sarah Scaturro, Eric and Jane Nord Chief Conservator

Determine 1: Three of the 4 seasons tapestries on exhibit in the Arlene M. and Arthur S. Holden Textile Gallery (gallery 234)

For the exhibition Cycles of Everyday living: 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 layouts from 100 decades previously. Woven of silk, wool, and metal threads, the tapestries variety in dimensions from eight-and-a-half-ft square to eight by practically 13 ft.

This project commenced 15 years ago when Robin participated in a a few-day survey of 36 tapestries in Cleveland’s assortment alongside with Belgian tapestry professional Yvan Maes De Wit. The goal of this survey was to rank the tapestries in the selection by high quality, and then to determine the sum of conservation remedy required to make them ready for exhibition. Based mostly on that study, the Four Seasons Tapestries have been picked as the greatest priority for cure. Two Grasp of Artwork candidates in the joint CMA/CWRU Artwork Historical past and Museum Scientific tests undertook art historical investigation on the tapestries. Their research helped to additional verify this set’s great importance and deliver facts that is now out there to the community by our Collection On the web platform.

Once funding was secured to deal with them, these 4 tapestries, alongside with 4 other people in the assortment, were sent to Mechelen, Belgium, in May possibly 2018 for treatment method at Royal Makers De Wit all 8 returned to Cleveland in September 2019 as soon as remedy was finish. Despite the fact that the CMA has a textile conservation lab on-internet site, treating tapestries involves a huge area, specialised products, and a crew of textile conservators trained in tapestry conservation to undertake the cure. Treating the tapestries in Cleveland’s textile lab would not have been possible. Cleveland’s romance with De Wit extends back to the late 1990s, when the set of eight Dido and Aeneas tapestries on screen in the Armor Courtroom (fig. 2) was despatched to Mechelen for therapy. Considering that then, 20 tapestries in Cleveland’s selection have now been handled by De Wit.

Determine 2: Dido and Aeneas tapestries on exhibit in the Armor Courtroom

De Wit makes use of a two-action stitching method. Initially, weak areas are stabilized to boost the tapestry by placing patches of cotton or linen driving locations of decline. Uncovered warps are stitched to the patch utilizing a matching thread. From time to time the patches are modest, but occasionally they may include big sections if an region is specifically ruined. Then comes restoration — which is the addition of new supplies to visually comprehensive an space. New thread is stitched on major of the patches to complete the photo. When considered from afar, the repairs are harmonious and just about indiscernible, but if seen up near, the new stitches are visually distinct, enabling viewers to differentiate original sections of the tapestry from restorations. You see right here the system: on the left is the ruined area, in the middle the reduction has been stabilized, and on the proper you see the restored place (figs. 3a–c).

Determine 3a: Ahead of procedure. Figure 3b: For the duration of procedure. Figure 3c: Right after treatment.

In addition to conservation therapy alone, conservators undertake prepared and photographic documentation of objects getting dealt with, the two before cure starts, all through procedure, and right after treatment is total. They also undertake complex evaluation to far better comprehend the objects they are managing. The wool and silk threads had been identified using a polarized gentle microscope. Dye investigation was performed in collaboration with the conservation experts at the Indianapolis Museum of Artwork at Newfields. Experts identified natural dyes sourced from both plants and insects that are indicative of products in use for the duration of the time the tapestries were being produced. Equally, the steel threads were being analyzed at the Swagelok Centre for Surface Investigation of Elements, situated inside of the School of Engineering at Situation 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 all around a silk core, which is a typical construction for metallic threads in the 1700s (figs. 4b and 4c).These collaborations lengthen Cleveland’s abilities in the realm of scientific evaluation, and finally advantage all the establishments associated as a result of the sharing of expertise.

Figure 4a: Photomicrograph at 40x magnification displaying the flat steel strip wound about a yellow silk core. Determine 4b: Backscatter Electron (BSE) depth at 1000x of the metallic floor. Determine 4c: BSE impression at 350x magnification from SEM-EDS.

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