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Thursday, June 1 • 3:00pm - 3:30pm
(Wooden Artifacts) Conservation and Analysis of a Pair of Qing Dynasty Lacquer Clothes Wardrobes in the Collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

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A pair of Qing dynasty (1644-1911) lacquer clothes wardrobes (1940-7-1, 2) has long been considered a highlight of the Chinese art collection in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The large wardrobes each consist of a lower and upper cabinet with gilt lacquer decoration of dragon and lotuses appropriate for furniture made for an imperial family. In 2015, the wardrobes were selected to be a part of a special exhibition. Due to years of use as display cases, they required conservation treatment, including structural repairs and consolidation of the surfaces. The treatment was also an opportunity for a comprehensive technical study. The first wardrobe to be brought to the lab was 1940-7-2 due to the need for major structural repairs; this was the primary focus of the technical examination described below. Wardrobe 1940-7-1 was studied for comparative purposes. Initial analysis revealed a complex stratigraphy, including an earlier decorative campaign. Examination of the structure revealed dissimilar construction techniques between the upper and lower cabinets. In order to clarify these initial findings, a battery of scientific methods was employed for the examination of the wardrobes. The methods chosen for the initial examination were: ultraviolet (UV) light examination, x-radiography, infrared reflectography (IRR), and hand held x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF). Over forty cross-sections were taken and examined by visible and fluorescent light microscopy (VLM and FLM) revealing the decorative stratigraphy. Several of the multi-layered cross-sections were then exhaustively separated into discrete layers which were then analyzed by pyrolysis gas chromatography- mass spectrometry (Py-GCMS) and Fourier transform infrared (MFTIR) micro spectroscopy analysis. Elemental analysis of each layer was also undertaken by scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDS). Preliminary results identified urushiol as the lacquer component, in combination with heat bodied oil; in several of the samples, tung oil was tentatively identified. Initial results of the technical study, including analysis of the structure and surface, strongly suggest that the wardrobes current surface presentation attempts to unify the cabinets. Ongoing curatorial research on both wardrobes including stylistic analysis of the form, decoration, and hardware indicates a mid-Qing dating.

Speaker(s)
avatar for Wei Kao

Wei Kao

Mellon Fellow in Furniture & Woodwork, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Wei Kao is the Andrew W. Mellow Fellow in Furniture and Woodwork Conservation at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She graduated in 2015 from Tainan National University of the Arts in the institute of Conservation of Cultural Relics and Museology with a specialization in lacquer. She... Read More →

Co-Author(s)
avatar for Kelly M Conlin

Kelly M Conlin

Conservator, Element Materials Technology
Kelly Conlin is a recent graduate of Queen's University's Art Conservation Program where she was a student in their Science Stream. At the Association for North American Graduate Programs in Conservation's annual meeting she gave an oral presentation of her preliminary research findings... Read More →
CD

Cathleen Duffy

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Scientist/Researcher
Kate Duffy is a scientist in the conservation department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She received a degree in chemistry from Hood College, Frederick, MD, and recently completed her PhD at the University of Birmingham, UK, on the application of metabolomics to the study of archaeological... Read More →
avatar for Barbara Fisher

Barbara Fisher

Conservation Analysis Lab Technician, Philadelphia Museum of Art
avatar for Hiromi Kinoshita

Hiromi Kinoshita

Hannah L. and J. Welles Henderson Associate Curator of Chinese Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Hiromi Kinoshita joined the Philadelphia Museum of Art as The Hannah L. and J. Welles Henderson Associate Curator of Chinese Art in 2012. She is presently working on a Chinese collection exhibition for 2018 and planning the reinstallation of the permanent Chinese galleries. Prior... Read More →
avatar for Peggy Olley

Peggy Olley

Associate Conservator of Furniture and Woodwork, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Peggy Olley is Associate Conservator of Furniture and Woodwork at the Philadelphia Museum of Art where she has worked since 2006. She graduated from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation in 2005 with a specialization in Painted and Decorative Surfaces... Read More →
avatar for Beth A. Price

Beth A. Price

Senior scientist, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Beth A. Price is the senior scientist in the Scientific Research Department at the PMA. Beth serves as a Board Member and Chair of the Infrared and Raman Users Group. She studied chemistry, art history and studio art at Rutgers University and the State University of New York.
avatar for Behrooz Salimnejad-[PA]

Behrooz Salimnejad-[PA]

The Elaine S. Harrington Senior Conservator of Furniture and Woodwork, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Behrooz Salimnejad Presently; The Elaine S. Harrington Senior Conservator of Furniture and Woodwork. Behrooz has worked in PMA for twenty four years. Education: BFA from Tehran University in Iran 1978, MS in art from Indiana State University 1980. Studies in German, and art history... Read More →

Thursday June 1, 2017 3:00pm - 3:30pm
Acapulco Ballroom Level, West Tower

Attendees (40)