Gilding examination and conservation

Frame to Benjamin West altarpiece in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston

The objective of the gilding examination was to determine the number of gilding and paint generations on the frame. For the study small samples were embedded in resin and the sample stratigraphy was examined under the microscope to verify observations made with the naked eye. The information gained supports the conservation plan and informs about future gilding conservation projects. Systematic documentation of cross section images also help to distinguish between different gilding techniques like oil- and water-gilding – now and in the future.

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The conservation treatment included consolidating all flaking gilding. Since the second generation gilding was mainly oil gilding it was impossible to separate the two gilding layers. But it was decided to remove the corroded bronze paint. Then, all losses where inpainted and a protective glue size was applied.

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