Our client’s Louis XIV Revival Fauteuil from the nineteenth century
came in for treatment of the textile (gentle cleaning, and stabilizing from the back),
conservation of original finish, and conservation of the upholstery buildup (innards).
Before treatment images above, though some of the gimp is removed.
We started, as we always do, with an assessment.
Our next steps are pattern making and excavation of the textile and buildup:
We apologize in advance for the strange yellow lighting in this room.
Because we are reupholstering the textile after we conserve the buildup,
we begin by taking patterns before we remove the textile. Part of the pattern making process is to provide Mitchell with a template of the proper buildup. Clear plastic allows Mitchell to make notes, identify tacking positions (to determine the number of upholsterings), and when the tapestry is cleaned, will assist with blocking.
One issue we saw immediately upon removal of the gimp trim was the excessive amount of glue applied. It appears possible there was a repair sometime in the textile’s life, and the upholsterer trimmed the textile too close instead of turning the edge under, leaving the next upholsterer (us!) a poor edge with which to work. We will have to be extremely careful because of someone who decided trimming was easier for them!
The seat textile removed, notations made, and the textile was set aside for cleaning.
Mitchell moved to the inside back, created the pattern, and began excavation.
The outside back fabric is also going to be reupholstered after it is cleaned;
the inside back is fully excavated to release
the outside back showcover fabric, a woven brown wool rep,
which may be a second generation showcover for the outside back.
There are notes in a few of the images.
The arm tapestries were removed, and all patterning completed, above.
Finally the seat buildup was excavated.
There is a different fiber under an earlier tack, so there may have been
an earlier showcover or possibly this is a muslin.
There is not enough fiber to tell the story.
Most of the innards will be cleaned and re-utilized during the re-upholstery phase.
They were carefully removed, layer by layer,
and set aside in the order of removal, ready for cleaning.
It is unusual to see 2-inch webbing; usually you see a 3-inch webbing and fewer courses. This is the original webbing, and Mitchell can affirm this because of the tacking holes. Mitchell thinks they were trying to achieve a sprung platform which would
drop the center of gravity, making the seat more comfortable.
Copper alloyed springs place the chair between 1890-1910.
And we find this, though no other signature markings: “Made in Belgium,”
the original dustcover on the bottom! Mitchell will place this back in the chair
as part of its history, but it is too rotten to reuse.
The exposed frame ready for repairs and finish work.
Our next steps are to clean the tapestry and outside back wool rep, and to conserve the finish. As we post I will link to the next posting: follow us so you are notified of updates.
Written by Kate Powell ©MPF Conservation.
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This is pretty exciting stuff, isn’t it? I guess you never know what you will find, but the ‘Made in Belgium’–that must have been a wonderful surprise.