Synergy News & Blog: Bath Office
Stowe Western Suite, State Dining Room Ceiling
Since January 2021 conservators have been hard at work on a scaffolding deck, restoring and conserving the gold-leaf painted ceiling in the State Dining Room. In the 1740s, the ceiling was originally the work of Venetian painter Francesco Sleter however it has since been added to over the years by various artists.
The curved coving features delicate floral decorations intertwined with fish, animals, and insects, while the central part of the ceiling and four roundels in the coving show scenes from classical mythology.
The conservation team started by repairing flaking paintwork so that subsequent cleaning did not damage any fragile original materials. A layer of “isolating varnish” was applied before repairs and redecorations so that the original surface and paints were preserved. Any work completed in this programme could be reversed if necessary.
Once the paintings were secure, the whole ceiling was cleaned with a five percent ammonium citrate solution, gently removing years of accumulated grease and dirt. There were substantial areas of damaged paint and many surface cracks that required filling.
The large octagonal paintings and the smaller inset panel were all removed for cleaning, which also enabled a check of the underlying structure.
The team also wanted to be sure that the original octagonal paintings, replaced in 1817 by those we now see, had not survived under the surface.
One area of the ceiling, approximately one metre square, was completely redecorated as the surface redecoration had been lost to water damage. An identical area was traced and the outline decoration redrawn, painted and then distressed to match the appearance of the original.
A complementary lighting scheme was installed at Cornice level which will allow visitors to view the ceiling in its full glory and perhaps imagine themselves among Stowe’s many illustrious dinner guests.
The works were carried out by Messenger BCR and Chroma Conservation. Purcell was the Architect and Synergy provided Cost Consultancy services.
Photo provided by Nick Jones of Messenger BCR
In other exciting news, The Georgian Group’s annual Architecture Awards took place on 5 October and The State Drawing Room which is adjacent to the Dining Room, has been awarded a Highly Commended Award in the Restoration of a Georgian Interior category.