Conservation of House of Lords murals by Daniel Maclise begins
Following a successful pilot in December 2017, the House of Lords is undertaking a phased programme to conserve Daniel Maclise's wall paintings ‘The Meeting of Wellington and Blücher after the Battle of Waterloo' and ‘The Death of Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar'.
These unique murals, which dominate the Royal Gallery in the House of Lords, are of both national and international importance. They were painted between 1859 and 1866 using the waterglass technique on plaster. They are among only a handful of wall paintings in the UK produced using this technique, which was developed in Germany in the early nineteenth century.
Both paintings have a long history of restoration, and have remains of unsuitable wax surface coatings, water staining, paint abrasion and poor quality retouching. These factors have played a role in the deterioration of the paintings' appearance.
In recent years, research and testing has indicated that the presentation of the wall paintings can be significantly improved through a combination of conservation treatment and sensitively designed specialist lighting.
The pilot phase trials demonstrated a noticeable enhancement in colour and legibility through removing surface dirt followed by a treatment using heat to reconstitute the existing residual wax coatings.
The overall conservation and relighting programme will be phased over the next 2-3 years. The first phase of conservation will take place between 18 April and 5 May 2018 and will involve surface dirt removal and some heat treatment. The results will further inform the treatment strategy going forward.
Baroness Maddock, Chair of the Lord Speaker's Advisory Panel on Works of Art, said:
“These two murals by Daniel Maclise are the centre pieces of the interior of Royal Gallery. They depict crucial events in British history that were extremely important to the Victorians who designed and built the Palace of Westminster. Today, the paintings remain among the most prominent and significant works of art in the building, and they are extremely popular with the hundreds of thousands of visitors who view them on tours each year.
“The conservation and relighting of Daniel Maclise's two monumental paintings will ensure their preservation and improve their appearance for generations to come.”