Re: Restoration vs. Conservation?

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Posted by Marvin Amstey on April 11, 1999 at 12:42:12:

In Reply to: Restoration vs. Conservation? posted by Steve Price on April 11, 1999 at 07:53:06:

: Dear Friends,

: Marvin's topic raises some very perplexing issues. One is whether restoration or conservation is appropriate for a particular rug.

: The Ushak has been extensively restored, and not particularly artistically. I think I would react as negatively as Marvin to the aesthetics if I saw it in the wool. The repiling is distracting and unattractive. To me, it would have been better to leave the rug the way it was and to sew on a backing in some unobtrusive color so that it would hold together. My brain would have filled in the design elements in those areas. That still wouldn't make this piece my cup of tea, but that's a matter of taste, after all. The fact that it sold for serious money last week tells us that the buyer held certain aspects of it in very high regard, and sort of hearkens us back to a previous Salon on the topic of what motivates collectors to collect the things they do.

: The Chodor piece is even harder for me to judge, being shown in black and white only. My guess is that it would look best if conserved by sewing on a backing to stabilize the slit rather than by reweaving it. On the other hand, I've seen many pieces that looked promising in black and white in a catalog, but when seen live proved to be obvious examples of instances in which the weavers were given colored wool to work with before they were quite ready for that step.

: A more difficult and vexatious issue, with which I'm sure we'll deal in the next 10 days or so, is how we react to really excellent repair work.

: Steve Price

I, for one, react positively, i.e. presuming most of the rug is original. As pointed out by Patrick, we all accept restored paintings if done very well and professionally (with paintings, I exclude simple cleaning in this discussion). Two important paintings hanging in my living room have been relined with some minor in-painting, but I find them aesthetically pleasing as untouched originals. This is true for many rugs also.

I do have one Chinese rug which is posing a problem for me. Characteristically, Chinese red and coral dyes fade with time (and light). I have had this large 18-19th c. pillar carpet for 20 years, and fairly large, restored areas which were done professionally with wool color right on the money are not fading at the same rate. They now stand out as obvious repairs. We love the rug, so there is no talk of changing it, yet more and more each day my eye travels to the repaired areas. What is hard to distinguish for me is whether my eye goes there because it is distracting or I'm simply aware that they are there. The former might make me change the rug - I think! (I have not looked into the cost of reknotting this rug). The latter is just a nuisance that requires retraining my eye to forget it. Marvin

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