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Subject: Ultrasonic mister for consolidating paintings

Ultrasonic mister for consolidating paintings

From: Inger Grimstad <ingergrimstad>
Date: Friday, October 22, 1999
We have nearly 1100 paintings by Edvard Munch in the Munch-Museum,
and a great deal of our collection are paintings with a matte,
powdery surface--in many cases due to the treatment by the artist

I am currently conserving a large study by Edv. Munch for my thesis.
The study was executed in one of Munch's outdoor studios, and was
left hanging outside for a number of years, protected only by a
narrow "roof".  We have photographs (some include the artist posing
alongside the study) showing the study hanging outside in different
seasons and some even show the piece halfway covered by snow, and a
gradual degradation of the materials is clearly visible in this
series of photographs.

The study was painted during the late 1920s on unprimed,
"sheet-like" cotton material, mounted directly onto a wooden wall
with drawing-pins, and has never since been mounted.  The pieces
were folded and stored in layers for some time, and during the last
30-40 years they have been stored on one roll.  The whole
composition consists of mainly 5 pieces of "canvas" which together
measure approximately 440 x 548 cm.  The pieces are full of tears
and wholes and also terribly wrinkled.  The cotton is broken down to
the extent that the fibres had broken in clean cuts at many of the
folds.  The bottom part of the canvases have had fungi attack and
partly rotted away.  The binding media in the paint has not yet been
established definitely, but is believed to be partly casein and/or

Naturally the paint has a powdery matte surface in need of
consolidation (though, considering handling, it has survived
surprisingly well and is quite beautiful).

I have read a few articles by Michalski and Dignard etc. (CCI) about
the ultrasonic mister (UM) with great interest!  In theory I think
the method sounds perfect for consolidation of matte paint, but I
get the impression the method is not very widely used, and I wonder
why? If anybody has had bad experiences (or good for that matter)
with the method, I would be grateful to hear about it!

I am planning to consolidate with Paraloid B-72 (Acryloid..) and
would like to know why, when used with the ultrasonic mister, the
only solvent used is ethanol?  Is ethanol the only solvent tolerated
by the UM, and why?

As we have a great many paintings with a matte surface, in need of
consolidation, in the Munch-Museum, any volunteered information will
be greatly appreciated,

Inger Grimstad
P.O. Box 2812 Toyen
0608 Oslo
+47 22 46 87 57 (h)
+47 23 24 14 34 (w)
Fax: +47 23 24 14 14

                  Conservation DistList Instance 13:27
                 Distributed: Monday, October 25, 1999
                       Message Id: cdl-13-27-008
Received on Friday, 22 October, 1999

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