MILANESE WORKSHOP
SILK AND GOLD THREAD WITH METALLIC THREAD BORDER
LAST QUARTER OF THE 19TH CENTURY

The tablecloth for the game table in the Room of the Valtellinese Stove is of complex manufacture in silk, silver thread and gilded metallic thread. Before the restoration effected by Francesco Pertegato, the tablecloth was in a mediocre state of conservation. The background fabric, rendered fragile by the molecular degradation induced by the combined action of light and atmospheric pollution, had small and medium-sized lacunae and numerous lacerations of modest size, which, nevertheless, were signals of the precarious state of the piece, while the metallic threads, whether of the fabric or the borders, were extremely discolored due to oxidization. Presumably acquired around the 1880s by the brothers Fausto and Giuseppe Bagatti Valsecchi to decorate their Milanese home, the tablecloth is displayed in the Room of the Valtellinese Stove as it originally was intended to be.

The tablecloth is composed of a square of worked fabric of the 19th century, framed by a large metallic decorated border in the “Byzantine” style (typical of the Romanticism of the period), with nine aligned rotae the subject of which, repeated serially, consists of two birds facing each other heraldically. The rotae are bound together by circular motifs, while in the central design there are vegetal elements. Seen altogether, the design reproposes a stylized Tree of Life with an eagle, a bird present in the family’s crest. The ensemble is completed by four hanging squares in plain velvet.

 

Technical Report of the Restoration (drawn from the restoration records)

PRELIMINARY ACTIONS
The borders were removed from the tablecloth and lining. The state of the tablecloth prior to restoration was photographed.

CLEANING
After the dust was removed with a vacuum, the fabric was tested for color stability and to evaluate the possibility of washing in a water-based solution, or a mixture of 1:1 of ethyl alcohol and water, at least, in order to eliminate the black mold spots. Since the color proved instable, the fabric was cleaned by immersion in a solution of organic solvents at room temperature. The border also was cleaned separately, using the same procedure. The lining was washed in a water-based solution of 1 gram to 1 liter of a non-ionic tensio-active substance and 0,4 grams to 1 liter of sodium carbossymethyl cellulose, both in order to better clean the object, and to stabilize the size of the fabric.

CONSOLIDATION
Consolidation of the object was achieved by applying local cotton supports on the back (the old silk had been rendered opaque with time), in a similar color to that of the background of the fabric. The local supports were preferred to an overall support in order to avoid even the smallest amounts of tension between the two layers of fabric, which would provoke new damage to the old and fragile fabric. The role of an overall support was entrusted to the cotton lining, washed, repositioned and shortened on one of the sides by at least 1 cm. The consolidation was done using the couched, or laid, stitching, placed more, or less, thickly depending on the seriousness of the damage.

FINAL OPERATIONS
The lining was reapplied, and then the border was sewn on, in such a way that the tension weighs more on the lining than on the degraded fabric.

For the complete restoration records, scholars are kindly requested to contact the museum.

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