Baroque frame

Title Baroque frame
School Italy
Date 17th century or a 19th-century copy
Material wood
Conservator(s) Sergey Nikitin
Workshop Objects Conservation

A few years ago a frame made in Italy came from the collections of the Pushkin State Museum to be restored. The frame is in the Florentine Baroque style. The exact date of its creation is still uncertain. It may date from the second half of the 17th century or be a 19th-century reproduction.
The frame itself is rectangular and straight in profile, with large-relief carving: in some places, it's a bas-relief, in some places it is cut out. The listel of the frame is made of poplar. The front side is covered with a thin layer of gesso and gold leaf. A peculiarity of the frame is that the gilding in hollows and carved places were covered by a thin layer of a solution of burnt umber pigment in gum arabic (samples and laboratory tests showed this). This technique of antiquing frames was widespread in European countries: today this type of object can be seen in some museums. The wood was in satisfactory condition, with no traces of insect holes. In a few places, there is some splitting of the wood, loss of carved elements on the edges and on the front side. There were numerous chips and loose stucco, abrasions and peeling of the gilding, and heavy surface soiling on the front and back sides.
The restoration was done in several stages: consolidation of the chalking areas, consolidation of the gilding, consolidation and smoothing of the chalking and cleaning. This sequence of treatments excluded irreparable losses of thу gilded stucco. After the damaged areas of the base on the listel of the frame had been restored, treatments were carried out to restore the decorative carved elements. It was decided not to restore the carvings on the outer part of the frame's mascarons, as no similar carving could be found. This was followed by filling in the losses in the stucco with subsequent moulding. The conservation council decided not to cover the gilded areas with gold leaf, but to retouch it with watercolours. In the depressions in the relief, surface gilding losses were made up for with burnt umber pigment in gum arabic solution. After the treatments, the frame was returned to the storage of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.