Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Persian Parlor: Restoration Continues

Restoring a room is often compared to restoring piece of art, however, when the room IS a piece of art, the complexity of its restoration is magnified by a power of 10. This room is "the room" in the house that truly makes the building special and the fact I waited several months to begin it speaks to that level of complexity and my desire to get it right.

The "Persian Parlor" was a bit of a statement, some might consider it a folly, by Ferdinand Burgman for his home. The Burgman's were involved with a local church and hosted an artist brought in to do work on the church. He stayed with the Burgman's and history has it did this room, the Garland room , Dining Room and hall while he stayed with them in the 1880's shortly after the building was built.

This Greek key design is clearly not Persian and  an example of some "Artistic license" on eth part of eth original artiist.
The parlor clearly exemplifies the Victorian fascination with the exotic. Yet there were , shall we say "artistic license' taken here and there. For example there is a Greek style stencils at the top and bottom of the room, clearly not a Persian design. Also some of the flowers are not representative of those found in that part of the world. However, the overall design is a artistic interpretation of an exotic land and  that was its purpose.

This existing wall panel is our model for the ceiling design
The room is designed in a series of alternating  wall panels, some smaller and some larger. These panels are designed to almost hake it look as it one was standing in a room looking out through a series of windows or on a porch. What we do not know is what the artists plan was for the openings. They were painted a solid color. Normal experience would suggest that there would have been a mural panorama of perhaps a desert scene or maybe the plan was for display of family portrait's and art. We don't know and it not our purpose to speculate and complete that 'vision' but rather to conserve what is there and lightly restore where appropriate. For example a shelf with printer had been unceremoniously screwed into the wall and when the 2nd floor was used as showroom space for the window shop, "slat board" was crewed to one wall causing damage. So as far as the walls go we want to preserve  a level of aging and not make it look like a new room but clearly restore where appropriate.

Key elements of the stenciling have been traced and digitally expanded to the new ceiling size

The biggest loss was the ceiling which was torn out at some point in the properties existence. May have been a leak  or could have been an unwise modernization taken on by a later owner, we do not know. So a major piece of this art is missing. However thanks to the recollection of several people in the building years ago  (invited to parties at the home) we have guideline as to what it looked like and that was essentially a much expanded version of the  north wall panel. This panel was large enough to encompass both ceiling lights (which were gas lights) and the medallions which we estimate were likely the same size as the one missing in the garland room where we can measure the 'ghost' of it on the ceiling 25 inches. Taking the measurements of the original wall panel and the other stenciling we were able to calculate just what the size of this panel would have been.
layout process

Using a large protractor we were able to expand and duplicate the correct curvature of that panel. Likewise careful tracings have been made of the stencil borders and "palm fronds' to aid in proper duplication. These have been scanned and digitally enlarged to the correct proportions. We carefully duplicated the wall paint color at a point of its' best "unfaded" color for application to the ceiling. Once this is applied it will be "aged' to take into account the natural sun fade that would have taken plans as well as to account to smoke buildup that would have naturally occurred in the corners. The paintwork is being done in the same manner as original. The center panel is being duplicated based on multiple accounts that is was a sky with clouds.

I am also "on the hunt" for matching pair of gasoliers and medallions have been ordered and I will start on a proper polychrome for them once they arrive.

More to follow.

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The Brennan House said...
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