Claire Egenolf, M. A.

0049 176 38 78 85 38
60489 Frankfurt am Main

Late-baroque sculpture before restoration. 18th century, polychrome wood.
Late-baroque sculpture before restoration. 18th century, polychrome wood.
Late-baroque sculpture while restoration
Late-baroque sculpture while restoration. 18th century, polychrome wood.

Polychrome wood sculptures

Living objects with changing robes

Polychrome wooden sculptures are often “living” objects that through their history undergo several adaptations to current trends. This is why the restorer often finds multiple layers of applied paint, which date back to different points in time. Besides that, the wooden carrier of polychrome sculptures can be seen and may also have already existed as an artwork in itself. Both aspects make sculptures highly complex art objects which are rich of information.

Wooden sculptures often suffer from inadequate environmental conditions: Excessive fluctuations in relative humidity or temperature induce tensions and material degradation which in the worst case lead to cracks in the wooden body or the loss of fragments. In addition, the dynamics of the wood often triggers partial delaminations or losses of the polychromy. Also microbial contamination and insect infestation result in an overall degradation of the wooden support.

I offer the conservation and restoration of wooden sculptures of all historical periods. This encompasses painted, gilded and decorated as well as plain wooden sculptures. The conservation of sculptures in a first instance aims to secure and consolidate the original structure to avoid further destabilization. It also deals with limiting the loss of material as well as removing harmful dirt and biological contamination. Subsequent restoration treatments target to regain a clearly legible and balanced appearance, while preserving the aged character of the sculpture respecting the stylistic changes that have taken place throughout history.

The following points indicate that a consultation of a restorer is advisable:

  • The colour intensity is reduced and the overall appearance seems dusty.
  • Pieces of the polychrome layer are already missing or you detect loosely attached paint layer at risk to get lost.
  • Cracks in the wooden sculpture endanger its stability. Fragments of the sculpture have come off.
  • Microbial contamination such as mould or insect attack can be observed.

The main steps of conservation & restoration treatments

"To conserve" means to preserve something that is still existing. "To restore" on the other hand, means to bring back something that has been lost. While conservation treatments are essential for the substantial preservation of an artwork, restoration measures have an aesthetic nature. The omission of restoration measures is therefore not acutely endangering the object, but it mostly prevents an undisturbed perception of the artwort. Thats why ususally restoration treatments are desirable.

Lamentation of Christ. Around 1450, wood, formally polychromed.
Lamentation of Christ. Around 1450, wood, formally polychromed.
Essential conservation treatments
Possible restoration treatments