Two 18th century Chinese low fired clay figures have been restored! From 23 April to 25 September 2016, Slot Zuylen will look eastward for the theme presentation Asia in Slot Zuylen. Guides take visitors through the castle and its garden and show how Asia found a place in the lives of its former inhabitants. The inspiration for this theme is the special restoration of two Chinese clay figures from the late 18th century, which are on display for the first time. Asia seems far away, but this season visitors see, hear, smell and experience that this part of the world was within reach in the Groote Huys aan de Vecht.
As a very special and one-off assignment I worked in the Rijksmuseum on a project that started as a lot of shards. A life-size bird (Macaw) made of porcelain (from Meissen, ca 1731) entered the restoration studio in hundreds of pieces. It is now in full glory again in the new arrangement, 18th century section, in a large round display case with several porcelain animals.
The macaw, decorated with enamel colors, sits on a tree stump. The fact that the Ara was made by top model Joachim Kändler, and that it was possible to get such a large and polychrome object out of the oven in the early porcelain production in Meissen makes it extra special. Technically and aesthetically a masterpiece. Several large animal pieces were made of porcelain in Meissen at that time, Elector August the Strong had an entire zoo made for his Japanese palace in Dresden.
The restoration took many months. Everything was still complete, but there were also a lot of tiny pieces too small to be used. The stump was still intact, although there were some cracks in the bottom.
Work was done in a number of stages: first of all, all shards were cleaned and placed together in the right place. Then a method and sequence of gluing was selected by means of dry practice. Slightly larger parts were made with smaller shards, until the large parts could also be joined together with epoxy. Some parts, including the head, were top heavy during gluing. As an extra reinforcement, two-component material has also been applied on the inside. With the help of colleagues, the glued object was then positioned on the tree trunk by means of a scaffold to keep the heavy bird in place during the curing of the glue (which takes about a week). When everything was put together, all break lines and missing flakes (chips) were filled with epoxy color fill, a nice limited method. Then the fracture lines and all the small filled chips were retouched. In this way the fault lines are made almost invisible without the use of an airbrush.
the restored Ara is to be viewd in the midst of other Meissen animals in het Rijksmuseum, section 18th century.
This early Spanish alabaster relief of Augustine as bishop of Hippo Regius from about 1500, had a number of problems: various old cracks on the top half, a dirty surface and old polychromy remains ... Alabaster is a delicate material: calcium sulphate. In principle, it is a type of plaster, and therefore vulnerable to moisture and dirt, among other things.
Under the influence of moisture, the top layer can hydrate (absorb moisture). When dry, the molecules crystallize, dehydration. A white / gray layer (gypsum-like) can remain. Alabaster can also develop a crust-like layer (usually a bit yellow in color) under the influence of acids from, for example, wood. This may indicate the formation of acetate (salts). This does not seem to be the case with this image however.