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There is a house in Holland…

There is a house in Loenen aan de Vecht. One of the rooms is decorated with handpainted historical wallpaper. This historical wallpaper is not painted on paper but on linen. Flowers grow on a white field in matte tones. Butterflies fly in between. The flowers tendril upwards on curly stems with graceful leaves. And at the bottom on the edge with the paneling an animal. It looks like an alligator looking back. In any case, it is an amphibian. What a beautiful little surprise. Because you don’t see him at first sight.

handpainted historical wallpaper
what is it a lizard? and alligatorr?

Color & Conservation

We do not know the exact date yet. But our colleague Willianne van der Sar from Color & Conservation is investigating this. She took paint samples. She examines the layer structure and the pigments. This makes the past of this beautiful room visible.

handpainted historical wallpaper

The history of the handpainted historical wallpaper

There is a lot of history to read on the wallpaper! Multiple format adjustments. Because the sheets are sewn together, and you see little patches here and there. They look like inset pieces. And yet it seems that the pattern continues. This is due to the overpainting and adjustments.

handpainted historical wallpaper
a historic seam in the wallpaper

The damage of the handpainted historical wallpaper

handpainted historical wallpaper
a scar made with needle and thread

Of course, there is also material damage. What do think when you are several centuries old. Sometimes it is an accident and we see a scar made with a needle and thread. But it is also vandalism. Pieces of linen that have been torn away. This happens when a house is vacant and cannot protect its treasures. Or an ‘artist’ has added his expression to the image in graffiti. This is not always appropriate! And what about pollution all those years of use and adaptation.

Investigate the possibilities for recovery

Fortunately, we are allowed to come and see and test the historical wallpaper. How can we best repair the damage without harming the object? That is why research is the first step. Raise a lot of questions, talk about them, and look closely and make discoveries. Which materials have been used? Has a primer been applied? How is the paint composition, what is original, and what is addition or adjustment? It is a puzzle with many pieces, and maybe some pieces can not be found.

Historical Wallpaper
A detail of the historical wallpaper photographed in UV light

The approach to the restoration of the handpainted historical wallpaper

All findings of the historical wallpaper and photos will be processed in a report and proposal for restoration. In it, we describe not only the actions that we want to perform. We certainly also describe the technique and the material used. Even aging and damages are discussed. All proposed actions will be substantiated with why and how. This substantiation is very important. In this way, we give the client insight into our expertise and our ethics. We want to inform them as fully as possible what the possibilities are for restoring this beautiful flowery room.

Marjan de Visser is currently writing an article on the repair of the damage in the linen. More about this in future blogs. Keep an eye on it!!

handpainted historical wallpaper
detail about paint layer

★ I like to share my knowledge of paintings and love for conservation with colleagues and clients ★

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