Now in its eighth month, the conservation project to clean and stabilize the walls and ceiling of the Parlor is still in progress, and with the completion of our successful Christmas season the room is once again a hive of activity as conservators complete a second pass cleaning the original 1860 decoration of the room by Italian artist Giuseppe Guidicini.
The size of the room, (the Mansion’s largest), along with the required methods of cleaning, make for an extremely detailed project that will still take several more months to complete. As Guidicini used an water soluble egg-based tempera paint on the plaster surfaces, no solvents can be used in this project; rather, it is a painstaking process using latex sponges and other methods of soft friction to remove the accumulated dirt and soot — in essence, the conservators are “erasing” the obfuscating film that had adhered to the walls and ceiling over the decades.
The results are dramatic. The above image shows the before and after treatment results on a section of the ceiling. These are not doctored photographs in any way, and the lower image shows the freshness of the colors as they were conceived. Grayed-out surfaces are once again giving way to vibrant peach and lavender toned whites and shimmering gold leaf on a red background that helps to frame vignettes with colorful garlands of flowers and tromp l’oeil borders.
Work– and discoveries on the methods and materials used in the decoration– continues.
Members of Victoria Mansion are welcome to contact us during the winter months for appointments to view the work-in-progress. The Mansion will re-open to the public on 1 May.