NPG BTS: Conservation of a Monument to Daguerre – National Portrait Gallery

NPG BTS: Conservation of a Monument to Daguerre – National Portrait Gallery

(Music) This sculpture hadn’t been maintained for a
number of years so the project involves a reduction of
the corrosion layer that we’re finding on the bronze, cleaning of the granite, the granite is found while there’s also just normal dirt and grime, we’re also finding
that we have a number of paint splatters, which probably occurred
over a long period of time perhaps even before the sculpture was moved to this site. The Daguerre monument was designed to honor the singular achievement of frenchman Louis Jacques Mondé
Daguerre, the artist and inventor responsible for
originating the first practical photographic process. It was announced to the
world in 1839. In 1889, the Photographers Association of America commissioned this monument to
celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Daguerreotype’s introduction. They
commissioned the American sculptor Jonathan Scott Hartley to create a
design that would honor Daguerre, but also
reflect the global impact that his invention has had. We initially got all things ready, getting the site set getting the scaffolding set then, there’s a light washing with a mild anionic detergent, very dilute solution and then rinsing, and then after that, we power wash and that allows us to reduce the corrosion
on the bronze to at least an even green layer now, but it’s
approximately half as thick as it was when we first started the treatment and that will give us a good base to do
the repatination. We will patinate the sculpture it’s a process using heat and a diluted chemical solution and that will take the light green appearance that we have now and then that’ll change that to almost a rusty brown look. After that is achieved and we
allow that to sit for about a day, we will then come in and we will hot wax. and the hot wax will resaturate the rusty surface and give it that dark brown
appearance that it had originally. The National Portrait Gallery has an
exceptional collection of daguerreotype portraits that cover
the full period of the Daguerreotype’s dominance the
earliest image really probably being the daguerreotype of
John Quincy Adams, which is from 1843 as well as daguerreotypes of Frederick Douglass, Matthew Brady, civil war figures such as Jefferson
Davis and Stonewall Jackson. Literary figures that include Henry David Thoreau, it’s a remarkable collection (Music) For us, it’s a great opportunity to work on this piece of sculpture. First off, it’s a lovely piece. I love this particular period when the
depiction of women in this period is probably the best I’ve ever seen There’s an elegance about it that
we seldom see in art. (Music)

2 thoughts on “NPG BTS: Conservation of a Monument to Daguerre – National Portrait Gallery”

  1. I identified the oldest portrait photo ever! louis Daguerre himself!

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