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Wednesday, May 31 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
050. (Objects) The Sharp End of Conservation: Reintroducing Paint to a Mid-Nineteenth Century American Stained-Glass Window

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A recent examination and treatment of a mid-nineteenth century, American, stained-glass, church window owned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art presented an ideal opportunity to relook at past paint restoration techniques and develop an innovative alternative that not only restores aesthetic legibility, but also avoids conservation concerns that arise from other techniques. The relatively unknown artist of the decorative window, Henry E. Sharp, heavily employs stenciled designs on nearly every pane. Thus, the patterns are a crucial component in how the window is viewed as a whole as well as understanding his style and technique especially during this early period of American stained-glass history, in which few windows were signed or dated, and many were destroyed or lost. However, due to inherent vice and a lack of protection from pollution and the elements for over 150 years, the window suffered from severe paint loss that altered the readability of the window. Therefore, restoring aesthetic legibility was a paramount goal of the treatment. The paint reintroduction method is based on a concept and treatment by Keith Barley, in which a mixture of glass paint, oil based gold size, and turpentine was brushed onto the back side of a figure’s face in order to bring forth the imagery of the area that suffered from paint loss. This project’s treatment on the Sharp window implements Barley’s concept, tests its application on a larger scale, and integrates traditional glass painting, printmaking, and silk screening processes. Through this innovative method, the paint is reintroduced in a manner that is faithful to the artist’s stencil patterns, clarifies the artist’s designs, is stable in an environmentally controlled interior setting, and is entirely reversible. Furthermore, this alternative method maintains the original materials and avoids possible complications of trapped moisture or stress from additional weight that can occur with back plating, a traditional paint reintroduction technique. Even in its early stages of development, this project's paint reintroduction method has proved overall effective in restoring aesthetic legibility and provides a promising alternative that should be further considered and explored for other windows facing similar condition issues.

Speaker(s)
avatar for Amanda Chau

Amanda Chau

Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Objects Conservation, Worcester Art Museum
Amanda Chau is currently the Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Objects Conservation at Worcester Art Museum where she is involved in the conservation of the Asian Art and stained-glass collection. She received an M.A. and Certificate of Advanced Study in Conservation from the SUNY Buffalo... Read More →

Co-Author(s)
avatar for Drew Anderson

Drew Anderson

Conservator, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Drew Anderson, Conservator, is responsible for The Metropolitan Museum of Art's stained-glass collection.  He received an MA in Stained Glass Conservation from the Victoria and Albert Museum/Royal College of Art and served as senior conservator in the Stained Glass Conservation... Read More →

Wednesday May 31, 2017 3:30pm - 4:00pm
Riverside West Exhibit Hall Exhibit Level, East Tower

Attendees (29)