Gilt leather

  • • Altar frontal (antependium),
  • • cushions, tablecloth,
  • • upholstery, screens,
  • • tapestries and wall-hangings

Unless very much in favor during the 16th and the 18th century, gilt leather was rarely studied and considered until now.



Expertise

The way it was made is more complicated than it looks. The leather is not only painted, it is also covered with silver. Only a specialist can estimate and explain the degradation encountered. The last and most improved conservation techniques should be applied.


Techniques

When dirt, loose seams, tears and other deformations are present, it is possible to act with reversible and respectful methods. Innovating hanging spring systems are also proposed to re-install the decors. Transportation, removal and reinstallation are included in the offers.


Documentation

Objects are systematically photographed before, during and after conservation. Each object is returned with a complete documentation explaining in detail the techniques employed and the materials used.

Photo 1 Conservation and reassembly of the panels in the workshop.

Flocked Leather Wall Hangings from the « Musée Estienne de Saint Jean » (Musée du Vieil Aix) in Aix-en-Provence

A decor of about 74 sqm has been restored in our workshop and replaced in a new exhibition room of the museum (official opening on the 14th of december 2016 (www.aixenprovence.fr). These hangings are old and very original: it is a rare case of flocked leather preserved in France. Their size and state of conservation are exceptional. Removed from the walls in April 2010, transported at the 2CRC and restored in spring 2011, they were refastened in April 2016 after validation of a complex pattern layout and a new suspended snap mode.

Dating: late 17th century. France ? Italy ?

Photo 2 Installation of the flocked leather panels in the exhibition room (Musée du Vieil Aix, Aix-en-Provence).
Photo 3 After installation and before putting the skirting boards.
Photo 1 Before restoration

Gilt Leather Panel from the castle of Villeneuve- Lembron (63)

This is a small panel made up of various elements originating from polychrome gilt leather wall-hangings. In the midst of foliage, a putto leans on a decorated vase, being alternately to the left or right of it. The meeting of two panels normally allows to show a whole vase. Unfortunately an old restoration severely damaged the decor by altering the reading of the patterns. We therefore decided to de-restore completely the panel. Then we reproduced the missing seams and set the decor with a new power system so that it can be again exhibited.
This decoration is the only known of its kind in France.

Dating : second half of the 18th century. Most likely French production of the Rhone Valley.

Photo 2 Ancient conservation materials are eliminated.
Photo 3 After conservation
Photo 1 Leather is removed from a plywood board

Gilt Leather Altar Frontal from the Jacobins Monastery in Toulouse (South west of France)

An altar frontal made of gilt leather has been restored in our workshop. It is normally on exhibition in the church of the Jacobins monastery in the centre of Toulouse. The curator plans to replace it in the rosary chapel, on the main altar. Badly restored in the past, it had to be removed from a plywood board where it was glued and constrained. The leather was reshaped, consolidated, retouched and remounted on a new light hanging system, then framed and protected with an organic glass.

Dating : mid 18th century, Italy.

Photo 2 Facing of the paint layer
Photo 3 Retouching after conservation
Photo 1 Leather panels sewing

Gilt Leather Tapestry from the castle of L’Isle (Switzerland)

A mural decor made of gilt leather has been restored in our workshop. Originally conserved in the castle of L’Isle in Switzerland, it is soon to be exhibited in the Grand Salon. The leather surfaces have been softly cleaned, reshaped, reassembled and retouched. A new hanging system has been elaborated using springs to respect the leather moves.

Dating : end of the 17th century, Netherland.

Photo 2 Gilt leather cleaning
Photo 3 Gilt leather surfaces before hanging