Rehousing a Diego Rivera Watercolor

In the summer of 2012, The Phillips Collection received the generous gift of an original Diego Rivera watercolor from Kerry H. Stowell. The watercolor is executed on delicate Japanese paper and depicts a poignant child labor scene. The artwork had become wrinkled in its old matting and frame over time. Whenever a new artwork enters the museum’s collection, the conservator examines its condition. The picture receives treatment when necessary and is rehoused in museum quality materials. In this case, the Rivera picture required removal from an acidic, poor quality backing board and flattening before being hinged into a new mat.

After removing the old paper hinges and flattening the paper, new hinges of Japanese paper are prepared. Since the artwork will be floated in its new mat, the Japanese paper is toned with acrylic paints in order to be less visible. The following photos illustrate eleven steps that were taken to prepare the newly acquired artwork for exhibition at the museum.

Step 1: Hinges are toned to match the original color of the artwork so they will be invisible. Photos: Patricia Favero

Step 1: Hinges are toned to match the original color of the artwork so they will be invisible. Photos: Sylvia Albro

Step 2: Conservation technician, Caroline Hoover, prepares the hinges and wheat starch paste for the new mount

Step 2: Conservation technician, Caroline Hoover, prepares the hinges and wheat starch paste for the new mount

Step 3: Pasting out the Japanese paper hinges with wheat starch paste

Step 3: Pasting out the Japanese paper hinges with wheat starch paste

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