The Victoria & Albert Museum, London

The original ceiling had sadly been lost behind an irriversible 1980's redecoration that deviated significantly in colour, positioning and quality from the original scheme. Conservation work was required to fill and remodel various cracks and losses to the ceiling bed and decorative plaster cornice. Areas of flaking and friable paintwork caused by water damage required consolidation to preserve the underlying historic scheme. Investigation was undertaken to establish original colours and finish and the ceiling was reinstated, restoring uniformity with the surrounding interior.

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An adhesive was injected behind flaking paint, individual sections were then laid flat and re-adhered to the substrate with the aid of a heated spatula and losses were primed with a damp resistant primer. Cracks and losses to the plaster substrate were filled and finished flush with the surface. The ceiling colours were individually matched and hand mixed based on revealed areas of original decoration. The original stencil locations were then identified with the aid of raking light. In keeping with traditional methods, the stencil designs were drawn and cut using stencil paper coated with knotting. These were marked out using a chalk line and applied to the ceiling with fine detail finished by hand. Care was taken to protect and preserve the figurative border and various areas of gilding as they appeared to be part of the original painted design. Modern pipes and fixtures were retouched to match the historic scheme.

Staining caused by prior attempts at chemical cleaning in previous years

Flaking and detachment of paint layers

Before and after conservation and reinstatement of original stencilled and gilt scheme

Hand painting fine detail during reinstatement of original scheme

JM

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