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Examples of Treatment

Polychromed Sculpture
Christ of the Sacred Heart – 18th century Naples

Painting before Restoration Painting after Restoration

Sculpture before Restoration

Sculpture after Restoration

Polychromed refers to painted (and at times gilded) sculpture. Although most frequently polychromed sculpture will be carved from wood it can also be made from plaster, terracotta and stone. This sculpture, from a follower of of Giuseppe Sanmartino in Naples, is carved from wood. the carved wood was covered by gesso (composed of animal glue and chalk) and was then painted to appear lifelike. The architectural base of the sculpture was also painted and gilded. This sculpture arrived to Sherman Art Conservation with active flaking paint with losses, small missing areas of carving, old retouchings and a thick grime layer.

Treatment

  1. Consolidate flaking gesso/paint with brush applications of adhesives
  2. Remove thick hardened grime layer and old retouchings from surface
  3. Replace missing sections with carvable Epoxy wood filler
  4. Fill all areas of missing gesso and paint with Acrylic Spackle filler
  5. Apply Matt varnish to surface
  6. Retouch as necessary

during Restoration
During Treatment, Before Retouching
Flaking gesso and paint is a frequent problem with wooden polychromed sculpture. This is for several reasons but probably the most frequent is that as the wood expands and contracts in responses to changes in relative humidity, the gesso cannot follow the dimensional changes and falls off. Filling the missing patches of gesso is time consuming as the fills are must be perfectly carved to perfectly match the surrounding surface.