Francois Gerard, Mazarin

Author Francois Gerard
Title Mazarin
School France
Date 1875
Material Paper
Technique Mezzo-tinto
Workshop Paper Сonservation

A French master Francois Gerard's gravure print Mazarin made after F. Delaroche's painting was sent to the Graphics Conservation Workshop in 2009.

Velvety-black undertones, subtle and varied tone gradations, picturesque soft transitions from shadow areas to the brightly lit ones are characteristic for mezzo-tinto works.

The challenges of this conservation were due to the rare for such works size, that is rather large, as well as its velvety surface, easily prone to damages. The print was adhered to the underframe at the edges, which, combined with poor storage conditions, resulted in various tears and deformations. The sheet was covered in dirt and dust. In the 'before' photo uneven yellow discoloration can be clearly seen, as well as smudges with whitish settling in the middle of the image.

The conservators checked reversibility of the glue used for fixing the print on its underframe. It was gelatinous (animal) glue. Dismantling was performed using an ultrasonic steam pen. The print was freed of its underframe and flattened under press. Cleaning and dedusting followed the process.

Cleaning of the print off its yellow discoloration was performed very carefully in a tray with Holitex materials. As a result of this chemical treatment the sheet was lightened, stains and smudges were removed.

The tears were mended with Japanese paper and wheat starch paste. The losses were filled with paper pulp at the vacuum table. The print was lined with thin Japanese paper and placed under press. After drying between textiles for 14 days, retouches were made at the places of tears and paint layer losses. It was placed in a passe-partout made of acid-free cardboard and returned to the storage of the Graphics Department.