Mould mould everywhere!

Of the 310 paintings at Knole at least 80 have some level of mould on the surface. Although mould is present or suspected in all rooms, the worst appears to be in the Spangled Dressing room, the Billiard room, the Leicester Gallery and the Reynolds Room and is a direct result of the very poor environmental conditions.

Mould on the surface of the painting 'Heraclitus' in the Billiard Room

Mould on the surface of the painting ‘Heraclitus’ in the Billiard Room

Mould penetrates the varnish and paint layers on paintings causing a white bloom on the surface, flaking paint and degradation of the canvas support. If left untreated this damage can become irreversible.

More mould on a portrait in Lady Betty's China Closet

More mould on a portrait in Lady Betty’s China Closet

In order to plan how we improve the environment in the showrooms in the future and how we can conserve the paintings, we need to better understand this mould growth; why it appears on some paintings and not others and in some rooms and not others; what factors influence its growth; how can we conserve the paintings and ensure the mould doesn’t return.

'Cimon and Iphigenia' bt Sir Peter Lely in the Spangled Dressing Room

‘Cimon and Iphigenia’ bt Sir Peter Lely in the Spangled Dressing Room

We have just started working with The Courtauld Institute of Art on a research project to investigate this mould problem. Six second year students are undertaking a full survey of environmental conditions in the showrooms, looking at data from the past and present to see how the current building works will affect the conditions.

Mould spores already growing in The Billiard Room...

Mould spores already growing in The Billiard Room…

...and in the Spangled Dressing Room, spores began to appear within 48 hours.

…and in the Spangled Dressing Room, spores began to appear within 48 hours.

The Petri dishes will collect mould spores that can then be analysed and identified. Samples have also been taken from the surface of some paintings and again will be analysed and identified. This project will run for 1 year.

Siobhan

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s