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Diana Scupture Restored

Posted On February 27, 2015 | 15:35 pm | by jessicas | Permalink

The bust of Diana in the Garden Room of the Fellowship House is a nineteenth-century copy of the head and shoulders of the so-called Diana of Versailles, a full-figure marble sculpture of Diana (Artemis) with a deer, now in the Louvre. The Louvre sculpture is a Roman copy (probably second century CE) of a lost Greek bronze sculpture from the fourth century BCE.

The sculpture, which is on loan from Harvard University’s Department of the Classics, was conserved in 2014 by Jane Norman; her conservation work was completed on May 22, 2014. The marble was cleaned with warm water, a mild detergent (1 percent aq. sol. Triton X-100), and soft brushes and cloths, and was then rinsed with water. Paint splatters (mostly blue) and a dark brown drip on the proper left side were removed by softening them with solvents (acetone and ethyl alcohol) and then mechanically lifting them with bamboo spatulas or cotton swabs. Two racks, as seen from the front, were gently brushed with dampened toothbrushes to remove grime. Small losses along the proper right side (along the join to the neck and on the upper folds of the robe’s neckline) had been previously filled with a very hard material and are unevenly rough. Norman patched them over with Modostuc, an acrylic spackling compound, and in-painted them with Golden Acrylic Paints. To minimize a horizontal crack, particularly along the proper left side of the drapery, some areas were filled with putty made from pulverized alabaster, marble dust, dry pigments, and Acryloid B-72 in acetone. When dry, a light application of gouache paint was applied to soften the disparity in color due to the tide line. This can be easily removed with water.

After conservation, the sculpture was sent to Hilgartner Natural Stone Company Inc., in Baltimore, where the sculptor Sebastian Martorana removed the damaged socle and designed a new socle to be fabricated and attached. Martorana has collaborated with Dumbarton Oaks twice before: he was involved in the restoration of the Bliss crypt in the Rose Garden and with the inscription outside of the Library to the south. Upon completion of the new socle, the sculpture was installed in the Garden Room of the Fellowship House, on November 20, 2014, using a black marble pedestal with rotating circular disk; this previously had been used to display the Byzantine Collection Black-Figure Amphora in the Courtyard Gallery, before 2006.