Work is already underway on our most ambitious interior conservation effort yet undertaken in the Mansion. With every inch of the walls and ceilings elaborately decorated, the Reception Suite is arguably the most impressive space in the house. In preparation for the paint conservation project, we have taken away all the furnishings and placed the portraits of Ruggles and Olive Morse into the Red Bedroom and Dressing Room respectively so they can still be seen over the Christmas season. The shutters were removed and new UV film installed on the windows. The storm windows came down to be cleaned and to allow work to be done on the exterior window frames. Electricians removed the gasolier and mirror lights. New scaffolding was delivered and is being assembled; it will provide the conservators with access to the entire main room. Gianfranco Pocobene, Siobhan Lindsay and their team of conservators will work on the project throughout the Christmas season, allowing visitors the unique experience of seeing this important conservation effort firsthand.
The conservation of the Reception Suite is complex because it involves cleaning and stabilizing painted plasterwork of intricate design in addition to the paintings on flat plaster and canvas paintings. With its lush detail and remarkable artistry, the original decoration is of a quality rarely seen by conservators. Italian artist Giuseppe Guidicini’s skill is particularly evident in the extraordinary imitation damask he painted on the ceiling where he carefully painted the effect of light moving across he pattern; the dark green leaves and flowers on a lighter ground at one end gradually become light against a dark ground at the other. Be sure to visit the Mansion during the Christmas season and share our excitement in seeing this conservation work in process.