Back To Schedule
Friday, June 1 • 11:00am - 12:00pm
(Research and Technical Studies + Wooden Artifacts) Bringing back color: Retouching faded furniture with colored light

Log in to save this to your schedule, view media, leave feedback and see who's attending!

Throughout the centuries organic colorants, both from natural and synthetic origin, were used to stain wood. This application lead to vivid colored objects of which the wood texture is still visible. Colorants can be applied over the complete surface of an object or used especially for marquetry, resulting in multi-colored objects. In addition to the coloring of wood, the natural color of unstained wood plays also an important role in the overall appearance of furniture. The main disadvantage of the use of organic colorants is the fact that they can severely fade in time, this is also true for the natural color of wood. As a consequence, the original appearance is lost to such extent that many museum visitors are not even aware of the fact that numerous pieces of furniture were originally colored; the visitors appreciate the natural, discolored wood and knowledge of how these objects originally looked like is sometimes completely ignored. To obtain knowledge about the original appearance is a great challenge, and it is good to realize that we will never be able to get the ‘exact’ colors right. However, more insight is required to be able to come as close as possible to the original intention of the makers of these objects. To revive this knowledge is only possible with an integrated approach. With this presentation, this integrated approach will be discussed. The research involves chemical analysis of the faded material, which is a challenge on its own, to identify the colorants used. The next step is the study of historical recipes and the creation of reconstructions (small mock-ups) based on these recipes to obtain more knowledge of the range of colors possible with the materials used. Degradation research is carried out on some of these colorants to understand their behavior. Finally, faded pieces of furniture were retouched using colored light, projecting a computer image via a beamer on the object in which the faded colors were revived. Although a promising technique, with possibilities to show these original vibrant objects to a large audience, questions arise about the accuracy of the reconstructed colors and the possible change in artistic value. However, it stimulates the discussion between curators, conservators and scientists about the possibilities and limitation of this technique and how to present the objects to the museum audience. Two case studies will be discussed. A group of objects designed by the Dutch architect Piet Kramer in the 1930’s which were originally stained with brilliant synthetic dyes and are now heavily discolored were accurately examined and these results will be presented. In addition, preliminary results will be discussed about the retouching of a much more complicated 18th century commode created by Andries Bongen.

avatar for Prof. Dr. Maarten R. van Bommel

Prof. Dr. Maarten R. van Bommel

Professor of Conservation Science, University of Amsterdam, conservation and restoration of cultural heritage
Maarten van Bommel is professor of conservation science at the university of Amsterdam, were he held a position both at the faculty of Humanities and the faculty of Science. He is chair of the section conservation and restoration of cultural heritage were future conservators / restorers... Read More →

avatar for Federica van Adrichem

Federica van Adrichem

Trainee in conservation and restoration of cultural heritage, University of Amsterdam

Jaap Boonstra

Conservator wood and furniture, Amsterdam museum

Friday June 1, 2018 11:00am - 12:00pm MDT
Kingwood Meeting Room Marriott Marquis Houston