Cycles of Life: The Four Seasons Tapestries | by Cleveland Museum of Art | CMA Thinker | Aug, 2022

Cycles of Life: The Four Seasons Tapestries | by Cleveland Museum of Art | CMA Thinker | Aug, 2022

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

Figure 1: 3 of the four seasons tapestries on screen in the Arlene M. and Arthur S. Holden Textile Gallery (gallery 234)

For the exhibition Cycles of Lifestyle: The 4 Seasons Tapestries, the CMA’s Textile Conservator Robin Hanson and Chief Conservator Sarah Scaturro took on dual roles — that of exhibition curators as nicely as conservators. This established of 4 tapestries, woven in Paris in the mid-to late 1700s, is centered on Flemish models from 100 a long time previously. Woven of silk, wool, and metal threads, the tapestries array in size from 8-and-a-fifty percent-ft sq. to eight by just about 13 toes.

This venture commenced 15 many years back when Robin participated in a 3-day survey of 36 tapestries in Cleveland’s selection together with Belgian tapestry qualified Yvan Maes De Wit. The purpose of this study was to rank the tapestries in the selection by high-quality, and then to figure out the amount of conservation remedy vital to make them all set for exhibition. Centered on that study, the Four Seasons Tapestries have been chosen as the optimum precedence for treatment method. Two Master of Artwork candidates in the joint CMA/CWRU Art Historical past and Museum Experiments undertook artwork historical investigation on the tapestries. Their study served to more validate this set’s great importance and present data that is now obtainable to the public by means of our Assortment On line platform.

As soon as funding was secured to address them, these 4 tapestries, together with 4 others in the collection, have been sent to Mechelen, Belgium, in Might 2018 for therapy at Royal Suppliers De Wit all eight returned to Cleveland in September 2019 once procedure was total. Despite the fact that the CMA has a textile conservation lab on-website, dealing with tapestries demands a big space, specialised products, and a workforce of textile conservators skilled in tapestry conservation to undertake the remedy. Treating the tapestries in Cleveland’s textile lab would not have been doable. Cleveland’s partnership with De Wit extends back to the late 1990s, when the set of eight Dido and Aeneas tapestries on display screen in the Armor Court docket (fig. 2) was despatched to Mechelen for therapy. Considering that then, 20 tapestries in Cleveland’s assortment have now been taken care of by De Wit.

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

De Wit utilizes a two-step stitching system. Very first, weak spots are stabilized to boost the tapestry by inserting patches of cotton or linen powering places of reduction. Uncovered warps are stitched to the patch utilizing a matching thread. At times the patches are small, but occasionally they could deal with huge sections if an region is particularly destroyed. Then will come restoration — which is the addition of new resources to visually total an space. New thread is stitched on leading of the patches to total the photograph. When considered from afar, the repairs are harmonious and almost indiscernible, but if considered up near, the new stitches are visually distinctive, enabling viewers to differentiate unique sections of the tapestry from restorations. You see in this article the system: on the remaining is the destroyed region, in the center the loss has been stabilized, and on the ideal you see the restored area (figs. 3a–c).

Figure 3a: In advance of cure. Determine 3b: All through treatment. Determine 3c: Just after remedy.

In addition to conservation treatment method by itself, conservators undertake created and photographic documentation of objects remaining taken care of, both equally before remedy commences, through remedy, and following treatment method is comprehensive. They also undertake specialized evaluation to far better comprehend the objects they are managing. The wool and silk threads were discovered using a polarized gentle microscope. Dye examination was accomplished in collaboration with the conservation scientists at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields. Experts discovered purely natural dyes sourced from each vegetation and bugs that are indicative of components in use for the duration of the time the tapestries were designed. Equally, the metal threads ended up analyzed at the Swagelok Centre for Surface Examination of Products, located in just the College of Engineering at Case Western Reserve University. Scanning Electron Microscopy with Vitality Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (SEM-EDS) detected a silver and gold alloy with trace amounts of copper in the metal strips wrapped close to a silk core, which is a normal building for metallic threads in the 1700s (figs. 4b and 4c).These collaborations lengthen Cleveland’s abilities in the realm of scientific analysis, and ultimately profit all the establishments included by means of the sharing of awareness.

Determine 4a: Photomicrograph at 40x magnification displaying the flat metallic strip wound all over a yellow silk main. Figure 4b: Backscatter Electron (BSE) element at 1000x of the steel surface area. Determine 4c: BSE impression at 350x magnification from SEM-EDS.