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A Closer Look at Conservation
Portrait of Daisan (15831648). China, Qing dynasty, 18th to 19th century. Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk; image only, 257.7 x 162.1 cm. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, PurchaseSmithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, and partial gift of Richard G. Pritzlaff, S1991.74
The new mounting both highlights the portrait and provides a stable support for displaying the scroll.
Portrait of Lirongbao's Wife (act. late 17th century). China, Qing dynasty, 18th to 19th century. Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk; image only, 177.6 x 98.6 cm. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, PurchaseSmithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, and partial gift of Richard G. Pritzlaff, S1991.129
Introduction | Cleaning | Pigment | Mounting
Step behind the closed doors of the Department of Conservation and Scientific Research to see how several portraits in the Sackler Gallery's exhibition Worshiping the Ancestors: Chinese Commemorative Portraits were restored.
Remember! These are trained professionals don't try this at home on your cherished family portrait of your great grandmother.
Smoke, Dirt, and Mold
Most of the works in this exhibition are ancestor portraits paintings used by families in annual rituals to venerate or worship their forebears. On these special occasions, the portraits were hung over family altars, and rituals were performed before them. Over generations of use, the paintings darkened from the accumulation of incense smoke and dirt. When they were not on view, most of the scrolls were rolled up and stored in damp conditions. Water stains and mold damaged some of the most impressive portraits.
Preparing for the Exhibition
Restoring a painting to its original condition after hundreds of years of wear and tear and even neglect is a time-consuming yet rewarding undertaking. A skilled professional with a steady hand, intense attention to detail, and lots of patience can almost miraculously restore a work to its former splendor.
This conservation project was made possible by the generous support of Fidelity Investments through the Fidelity Foundation.
The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art|
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