Conservation and Research

Williamstown Art Conservation Center textiles conservator Annika Amundson works on repairing and stabilizing one of the portieres.
Photo: Tucker Bair

Williamstown Art Conservation Center furniture conservator Hugh Glover works on replacing the lost piano stool monograms.
Photo: Tucker Bair

Elizabeth Creeden
Alma-Tadema/Marquand Piano Stool Embroidery, 2017
Silk floss on fabric

Orchestrating Elegance: Alma-Tadema and Design has provided the opportunity to further research the Clark’s piano, piano stools, sample panel, and portieres, and to undertake several conservation projects. Wood analysis and in-depth study of the materials in these objects has clarified the range of materials used to create the suite.

Marquand’s monogram, “HMG,” appeared on many pieces of the suite, each adapted in size, configuration, and color scheme to the specifics of each form. The original monograms on the piano and stools were gouged out by a subsequent owner, most likely William Barbour. Through examination of historic images and surviving monograms, Williamstown Art Conservation Center conservator Hugh Glover was able to recreate the piano stool monograms.

The portieres from the room were an invaluable resource in selecting the correct color and weave of silk to reupholster the piano stools. The primary material used for the portieres and for the furniture’s original upholstery is a sage-green silk rep (a cloth woven in tight diagonal ribs that intensify color) that proved challenging to match. Conservation examination and treatment to stabilize the portieres for display resulted in new information and understanding of the textiles in the suite. Curators studied the portieres closely while planning the re-creation of the original upholstery of the piano stools, which also entailed close study of historic images that show the original upholstery.