The watercolor sketches of Mountain and Muse, like other works of art on paper, require special care and conservation. Years of exposure to light can harm paper objects and fade watercolor pigments. Heat, humidity, dust and temperature also play a role in affecting art objects. Artists in the past often unknowingly worked on paper with a high acidic content that over time can become yellow and brittle.
Rachel Ray Cleveland of Cleveland Art Conservation performed a scientific examination of the MHHNA sketches in her lab in Laurel, MD. She provided the Museum with a Condition Report and the MHHNA Board unanimously voted to have Ms. Cleveland continue her work by completing the recommended treatment process. The details of this complex process are outlined in nine individual steps and summarized in a Treatment Report. Her use of photo documentation allows for before and after treatment comparisons. It also provides a benchmark of what the drawings look like in 2001 to allow Museum staff to evaluate future changes. This stewardship role is part of the MHHNA mission: to preserve artifacts in the collection for future generations. A tenth and final item in her report outlines recommendations for the appropriate matting, framing and display of the treated drawings. Pamela Wincup of Artistic Endeavors in Bethesda, MD, a member of the Washington Conservation Guild, framed the foxhound portraits to archival museum standards.
Written by John Head
The drawings of foxhounds Mountain and Muse c. 1810 are back from their recent trip to the paper conservator’s laboratory. The newly restored hound portraits have also been re-framed and will surely be among this season’s collection highlights for visitors to Morven Park.