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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

Figure 1: A few of the four seasons tapestries on display in the Arlene M. and Arthur S. Holden Textile Gallery (gallery 234)

For the exhibition Cycles of Lifetime: 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 perfectly as conservators. This established of four tapestries, woven in Paris in the mid-to late 1700s, is primarily based on Flemish types from 100 yrs before. Woven of silk, wool, and steel threads, the tapestries variety in size from eight-and-a-half-ft sq. to 8 by just about 13 feet.

This venture commenced 15 decades in the past when Robin participated in a three-working day study of 36 tapestries in Cleveland’s selection together with Belgian tapestry professional Yvan Maes De Wit. The intention of this study was to rank the tapestries in the selection by top quality, and then to determine the amount of conservation procedure needed to make them completely ready for exhibition. Primarily based on that survey, the Four Seasons Tapestries ended up picked as the maximum precedence for treatment method. Two Learn of Artwork candidates in the joint CMA/CWRU Art Record and Museum Reports undertook artwork historic investigate on the tapestries. Their study served to additional ensure this set’s relevance and present facts that is now readily available to the community by means of our Assortment On-line platform.

Once funding was secured to deal with them, these four tapestries, along with four other folks in the assortment, had been sent to Mechelen, Belgium, in Might 2018 for treatment method at Royal Suppliers De Wit all eight returned to Cleveland in September 2019 when cure was full. Though the CMA has a textile conservation lab on-web page, dealing with tapestries necessitates a big room, specialized equipment, and a team of textile conservators skilled in tapestry conservation to undertake the cure. Managing the tapestries in Cleveland’s textile lab would not have been feasible. Cleveland’s partnership with De Wit extends again to the late 1990s, when the established of eight Dido and Aeneas tapestries on display in the Armor Court (fig. 2) was despatched to Mechelen for procedure. Because then, 20 tapestries in Cleveland’s selection have now been dealt with by De Wit.

Determine 2: Dido and Aeneas tapestries on display screen in the Armor Court

De Wit uses a two-step stitching approach. Very first, weak regions are stabilized to fortify the tapestry by placing patches of cotton or linen guiding regions of loss. Exposed warps are stitched to the patch working with a matching thread. Often the patches are smaller, but occasionally they could possibly cover big sections if an space is specifically broken. Then arrives restoration — which is the addition of new components to visually entire an place. New thread is stitched on prime of the patches to full the photo. When viewed from afar, the repairs are harmonious and almost indiscernible, but if considered up shut, the new stitches are visually various, enabling viewers to differentiate original elements of the tapestry from restorations. You see below the procedure: on the remaining is the destroyed space, in the center the loss has been stabilized, and on the appropriate you see the restored region (figs. 3a–c).

Determine 3a: In advance of treatment method. Determine 3b: For the duration of treatment. Figure 3c: Immediately after remedy.

In addition to conservation treatment by itself, conservators undertake penned and photographic documentation of objects remaining taken care of, equally ahead of treatment method commences, during remedy, and after remedy is full. They also undertake specialized examination to better fully grasp the objects they are managing. The wool and silk threads were being identified using a polarized gentle microscope. Dye analysis was done in collaboration with the conservation researchers at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields. Scientists identified pure dyes sourced from the two crops and insects that are indicative of components in use in the course of the time the tapestries have been designed. Similarly, the metallic threads ended up analyzed at the Swagelok Centre for Surface Examination of Elements, located inside the School of Engineering at Case 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 metallic strips wrapped close to a silk core, which is a standard building for metal threads in the 1700s (figs. 4b and 4c).These collaborations lengthen Cleveland’s abilities in the realm of scientific evaluation, and in the long run benefit all the institutions involved by means of the sharing of awareness.

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