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

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

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

For the exhibition Cycles of Life: The 4 Seasons Tapestries, the CMA’s Textile Conservator Robin Hanson and Main Conservator Sarah Scaturro took on twin roles — that of exhibition curators as perfectly as conservators. This set of four tapestries, woven in Paris in the mid-to late 1700s, is dependent on Flemish designs from 100 years earlier. Woven of silk, wool, and metal threads, the tapestries assortment in sizing from eight-and-a-half-toes square to eight by virtually 13 feet.

This challenge began 15 many years back when Robin participated in a 3-day survey of 36 tapestries in Cleveland’s selection along with Belgian tapestry skilled Yvan Maes De Wit. The purpose of this survey was to rank the tapestries in the selection by high-quality, and then to decide the quantity of conservation procedure needed to make them prepared for exhibition. Primarily based on that survey, the Four Seasons Tapestries were selected as the maximum precedence for treatment. Two Learn of Artwork candidates in the joint CMA/CWRU Art History and Museum Scientific studies undertook artwork historic analysis on the tapestries. Their exploration assisted to additional affirm this set’s relevance and give information and facts that is now obtainable to the community as a result of our Collection On-line system.

At the time funding was secured to address them, these four tapestries, along with 4 others in the collection, ended up despatched to Mechelen, Belgium, in Might 2018 for treatment at Royal Makers De Wit all 8 returned to Cleveland in September 2019 when remedy was full. Although the CMA has a textile conservation lab on-website, treating tapestries calls for a big room, specialised gear, and a staff of textile conservators properly trained in tapestry conservation to undertake the treatment. Dealing with the tapestries in Cleveland’s textile lab would not have been possible. Cleveland’s romance with De Wit extends back to the late 1990s, when the set of 8 Dido and Aeneas tapestries on display in the Armor Court docket (fig. 2) was sent to Mechelen for therapy. Because then, 20 tapestries in Cleveland’s collection have now been dealt with by De Wit.

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

De Wit takes advantage of a two-move stitching procedure. Very first, weak places are stabilized to reinforce the tapestry by inserting patches of cotton or linen guiding spots of decline. Uncovered warps are stitched to the patch utilizing a matching thread. Occasionally the patches are tiny, but from time to time they may address large sections if an region is specially broken. Then will come restoration — which is the addition of new components to visually full an region. New thread is stitched on major of the patches to comprehensive the image. When seen from afar, the repairs are harmonious and pretty much indiscernible, but if viewed up shut, the new stitches are visually different, enabling viewers to differentiate unique pieces of the tapestry from restorations. You see below the process: on the left is the damaged spot, in the center the decline has been stabilized, and on the proper you see the restored location (figs. 3a–c).

Figure 3a: Before therapy. Figure 3b: Throughout therapy. Determine 3c: Immediately after treatment method.

In addition to conservation treatment method by itself, conservators undertake written and photographic documentation of objects currently being dealt with, equally right before cure starts, in the course of procedure, and right after cure is full. They also undertake complex investigation to superior comprehend the objects they are dealing with. The wool and silk threads had been discovered employing a polarized light-weight microscope. Dye evaluation was accomplished in collaboration with the conservation scientists at the Indianapolis Museum of Artwork at Newfields. Experts recognized normal dyes sourced from each vegetation and insects that are indicative of products in use all through the time the tapestries have been built. Similarly, the steel threads have been analyzed at the Swagelok Heart for Surface Examination of Supplies, positioned inside the University of Engineering at Case Western Reserve University. Scanning Electron Microscopy with Electricity Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (SEM-EDS) detected a silver and gold alloy with trace amounts of copper in the steel strips wrapped close to a silk main, which is a usual development for metal threads in the 1700s (figs. 4b and 4c).These collaborations prolong Cleveland’s abilities in the realm of scientific examination, and in the long run reward all the institutions concerned via the sharing of expertise.

Determine 4a: Photomicrograph at 40x magnification showing the flat steel strip wound all-around a yellow silk main. Figure 4b: Backscatter Electron (BSE) detail at 1000x of the metal area. Figure 4c: BSE graphic at 350x magnification from SEM-EDS.