Tibetan Antelope

PUNEETA SHARMA

PAPER CONSERVATOR. MA CONSERVATION. BA FINE ART.

Tibetan Antelope painting, c. 1840: Zoological Society of London

This project focused on the conservation treatment and research of a 19th century watercolour and gouache painting, commissioned by Brian Houghton Hodgson, depicting the Tibetan antelope. The painting is part of the Hodgson collection, which belongs to the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) Library. It is likely Nepali artist Raj Man Singh who worked for Hodgson as an artist and produced the majority of the paintings found in the Hodgson collection, produced this particular painting.

The Tibetan antelope was the first mammal that Brian Houghton Hodgson discovered and wrote about. The commission of the painting is a reflection of the special significance the species had for Hodgson. Unfortunately, the Tibetan antelope is now an endangered species, being at risk from poachers for its beautiful fleece, which is used to make luxury garments such as shawls.

The main aim for conservation treatment was the stabilisation of the paper support to allow for safe access and handling without further deterioration occurring. The overall condition of the object before treatment was poor; the media was cracking in areas and the paper suffered extensive damage in the form of peripheral tears, missing areas and brittleness due to previous storage conditions. Treatments consisted of surface cleaning to reduce discolouration; humidification to flatten out the creased and brittle edges; two phases of paper repair; tape removal; stain reduction of a large tideline and consolidation of cracking media.

The visual appearance and physical stability of the object has been considerably improved as a result of the treatments, which have given the painting back the unity that was lacking prior to the treatment. The main difficulties with this project have been in dealing with the large size and brittleness of the sheet, both of which were a major concern during treatment.

Repairing the object took the longest time of all treatments to complete due to the large areas of damage and loss. The work was complex due to the brittleness of the sheet, which required only dry paste and gentle pressing. The end result was very satisfactory. The repairs have provided sufficient support to the fragile areas and strengthened the sheet, without obscuring the visual appreciation.

More information and the full report can be found at the ZSL Library following the link here

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