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Restoration of 148 pictures on eight sheets of the Album of Jewellery Designs from the House of Faberge

The House of Fabergé is one of the most famous names in the history of jewellery-making and silverwork in Russia. Carl Fabergé and his craftsmen produced outstanding pieces of decorative and applied art to commissions from the Russian imperial house and European monarchs, as well as members of prominent aristocratic families and the grande bourgeoisie.

The Precious Metals Fund within the Department of the History of Russian Culture possesses an album of jewellery designs by Carl Fabergé, with 60 pages onto which are glued 1,283 pictures made with watercolour, gouache, pencil and ink. These images are a kind of retrospective review of the work of the famous firm’s craftsmen. They were made in a variety of techniques typical for the early 20th century: graphite pencil, watercolour painted with varnish, pen and ink, iron gall ink, mezzotint and tinted engraving.

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State of preservation before restoration. The surface of the drawings was dusty, abraded and deformed. The paper had turned yellow with time and contained fractures running in different directions and deformation in the places where glue was applied, isolated scratches with loss of the top layer of paper and paint/ink, foxing, spots of various origin, traces of glue, dirt impregnated into the paper.

Since some drawings are missing, there are significant losses of the surface layer of the album page, containing numerous separations, glue spots and remnants of the paper backing of lost pictures. As a result of the glue ageing and drying out, numerous gathers, creases and blisters, as well as general deformation appeared on the paper of the pictures and the album pages. The glue also caused destruction of the paper of the pictures and album pages.

The restoration process included the following stages:

  • Removal of the pictures from album pages;
  • Removal of surface soiling;
  • Reduction of yellowing and removal of products of decomposition from the structure of the paper support of the pictures;
  • Strengthening of the paint layer;
  • Dismantling of compositions made up of several drawings, partially pasted onto one another.
  • Reduction of the general yellowing of the paper base, localized reduction of foxing and of spots of different origin.
  • Strengthening of creases, gluing of breaks, making good of losses.
  • Strengthening and stabilization of the paper base by backing and impregnation.
  • Tinting where necessary.
  • Encapsulation.
  • Preparation of exhibits for display and subsequent storage with the possibility of rotation in the permanent display in the General Staff building

As a result 148 pictures on eight sheets of the album of Fabergé jewellery designs were restored.

The staff members of the State Hermitage’s Laboratory for the Scientific Restoration of Graphic Art who worked on the restoration were:

Alexander Solin

Curator, Senior Researcher in the Department of the History of Russian Culture
 

Tatyana Sabianina

Head of the laboratory

Marina Gambalevskaya

artist-restorer

Dinara Mamina

artist-restorer

Yelena Rudakas

artist-restorer

Margarita Voinarovskaya

artist-restorer

Yelena Mikolaichuk

senior researcher, physical and chemical study

The project was realized with the support of the Ilim-Garant Charitable Foundation.