IADA XIVth Congress in Waschau: een lezing over de conservering van Pith papier

Van 22-25 september bezocht de de conferentie van IADA in Warschau. Op de een na laatste dag heb ik zelf ook een lezing gegeven (mede auteur was Karin Scheper, UB Leiden) over de restauratie van een aantal schilderingen op pith papier.

Hieronder een kleine stukje uit de lezing:

In 2018 we started working on a collection of pith paintings belonging to the Hotz Collection in the Leiden University Library. Albertus Paulus Hermanus Hotz, born in 1855 in Rotterdam, moved to Iran at the age of 19, where he engaged in commercial activities like oil and coal mining, banking and the carpet-weaving industry. While there, he collected all sorts of materials related to the culture. The set of Pith paintings are the odd ones out in his collection: they were kept together with 250 Persian drawings from the Qajar period, roughly dating from the 19thcentury. The pith papers are clearly a product from further east, and it is currently unknown how they came into Hotz’ possession.  The pith paintings have been part of the Leiden collection since 1935. They had not received any treatment before.

We found the paintings in a very poor condition. In fact, due to their dire condition they had not even been fully catalogued, and thus it was not even possible for the library’s users to request these items. It was clear that conservation was needed for these paintings.

The 19 pith paintings all had very similar damage. They were mounted in a way that is quite common for these items: lightly attached to a support paper, the edges of the Pith paper secured with a blue ribbon. Nine of these leaves, with paintings of fishes were kept together in a book-like section, however, without any traces of a binding or cover.  These paintings had suffered water damage in the lower right corner. Also the blue silk fabric borders were broken and had missing pieces.

Eight paintings of flowers had many cracks, lacunas and local discoloration. Especially the edges of the pith had suffered lots of damage.