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Condition of the frame before conservation

detail of corner of frame showing damaged surface

Detail showing the friable surface of the frame

The frame was extremely dusty and dirty which made it difficult to assess the surface beneath in some places. The surface of the frame was extremely friable and flaky that made it susceptible to loss with any movement or touch.

The corner section in the image above shows extensive loss to the gilt surface along with the gesso ground that is applied directly onto the timber substrate and carved elements. The visible gesso is a very pale creamy yellow colour that suggests the oil size has stained it.

The leaf at the mitre in the top left of the photograph shows the extent of loss with a third being white. The inside hollow shows small vertical fracture lines that are friable and crisp on the edges that would in time detach if not consolidated quickly. The fracture lines were evident all around the inside hollow.

The picture below highlights the degree of worn and patchy gilding to the inside hollow.

detail of old frame showing where the gold decoration is missing in places

There were no losses to the applied carvings although they were loose in places with the bottom outside moulding held in place by only one pin.

The left side stylised acanthus and shell moulding that created the sight edge and rebate is split and wobbly. Close examination showed it had been extended or chopped out making it susceptible to damage once treatment began. The top rail had also been partially chopped out to increase its width. There were rusty hand-made original nails sticking out from the chopped out rebates. The two other sides felt stable.

Measuring the extreme sight showed it to be only 3mm deep. Although there were no losses to the acanthus and shell there was a 10-12 inch loss to the timber extreme edge along the bottom rail. There was a very thin section of timber missing from the sight edge of the right side.

There were brownish patches around the inside corners of what appeared to be paint possibly discoloured gold/bronze paint.

Scraping the surface below the creamy yellow gesso showed a speck of bright gold which is the original gilt surface. Gently scrapping a small section of the acanthus and shell at the sight edge revealed a tiny speck of burnished water gilding over red bole/clay.

The back of the frame was covered with brittle paper gum tape and there were a number of stickers with information down the right side.

detail of handwritten label on brown paper lining the back of the frame

Label reading: 'Richard Wright of Liverpool. See Folder for full provenance etc'