Conservation of 15th and 16th century Italian glazed terracotta: Thoughts from conservators in private practice

Leslie Ransick Gat and Erin Toomey

Abstract

Art Conservation Group has worked on more than a dozen glazed Italian terracotta sculptures. All have come to us after purchase from the market or auction house. One of the glories of glazed ceramics is that beneath the layers of grime and old restoration, the surfaces are often beautifully preserved. Though there are often multiple areas of damage, adjacent surfaces largely inform the viewer as to how the whole would have looked. As a studio in private practice, beyond our mandate to treat each object within the AIC code of ethics, our choices for the aesthetic outcome of our treatment are also directed by the clients’ needs. While always appropriate to preserve some sense of an object’s visual antiquity, we consider the context the piece will be placed when determining our goal(s). Our part of a joint presentation with Tony Sigel will discuss our general approach for the treatment of these terracotta sculptures. We will include a review of the general materials that we use and discuss some of our choices in light of our work in the private sector.