The Victoria and Albert Museum Plaster Casts by the Nineteenth-Century Workshops of the Notre-Dame Cathedral: Scientific Analysis and Conservation

Valentina Risdonne*, Adriana Francescutto Miró, Sayuri Morio, Charis Theodorakopoulos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Four nineteenth-century casts of the decoration on the north side of the exterior of the apse of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris are held in the plaster casts collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The casts were manufactured by two different nineteenth-century workshops, one run by Jean Pouzadoux and the other by Auguste Malzieux. After an assessment of the condition of the casts, a scientific analysis allowed the characterization of the manufacturing materials and subsequent conservation treatments aimed at ensuring the stability of the casts and removing dirt and grime from the casts’ surfaces. Optical microscopy of the samples taken from the casts allowed the stratigraphy to be studied, which largely consisted of gypsum plaster and a coating layer (oxidized diterpenic resin or shellac) containing silicon and aluminium partially diffused in the porous substrate. These materials were identified by a range of techniques, including X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscope–energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. The conservation works returned stability to the panels for redisplay in the galleries and achieved a closer comparative study between the two workshops. The two sets of panels showed numerous differences in manufacturing processes that corresponded to their observed deterioration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3427-3445
Number of pages19
JournalHeritage
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2022

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