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Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Paper Conservation Lab

by Conservation


conservation , behind the scenes , exhibition design , paper , prints , works on paper


This month the Paper Conservation Lab is full of prints that will be featured in The Etching Revival:  Daubigny to Twachtman, opening February 13th. One of the prints, Man in Spanish Costume by William Merritt Chase (United States, 1849-1916), has suffered water damage that resulted in some unusual discoloration.  Unfortunately, the water moved only part way through the image, leaving a tideline stain across the upper right.  The water actually cleaned the paper as it moved from the bottom left through the sheet, so the portion of the image that was “washed” has less discoloration than the upper right where the paper remained dry.  The paper appears freckled with tiny brown flecks.  Under microscopic examination, it is clear that the flecks are individual paper fibers that aged and discolored differently than surrounding fibers.  The challenge is to lighten the dark fibers without brightening the whiter fibers so the paper color is more even and the stain no longer disfigures the image.  Come see this and many more etchings from America, France and England during the exhibit February 13 – May 8, 2016.

1907.26, William Merritt Chase, Man in Spanish Costume, etching and drypoint on paper, Gift of Maria Longworth Storer, 12 1/16 in. x 9 5/16 in.