Archive for the ‘Modern(ish)’ Category

After 10 years, the Fenland bog oak table

Sunday, September 25th, 2022

Way back in the mists of 2012, farmers discovered a massive trunk of prehistoric oak preserved for 5,000 years in a Cambridgeshire peat bog. The trunk was 44 feet long and weighed five tons and it was only a section from the middle of the original oak, one of many Ent-like giants that ruled the Fenland Basin before rising levels turned the ancient high forest into a bog.

Bog oak is England’s only native black timber, prized for its rich color and thick stripe grain. Usually the finds are much more modest, however, and bog oak is used for inlays or smaller cabinetry. This giant was so huge and in such spectacular condition — no disease or parasites in life, almost no decomposition after death — that bog oak specialists decided the only way to do justice to its majesty was to saw it into planks the length of the entire trunk and create a massive table out of them that would go on public view.

Thus the Fenland Black Oak Project was born. Dubbed the Jubilee Oak because it was discovered in the year of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, the oak was raised and quarter sawn into full-length planks. The planks were then dried in custom-built kilns 50 feet long. It took nine months to extract the water from the wood. A total of 1795 liters (474 gallons) of water was extracted; the planks lost half their thickness, a quarter of their width and 1.8 tons of weight.

Designers then came up with an almost sculptural concept to show off this beautiful wood: a drop-leaf table mounted on a bronze understructure and four pilons for legs. The two outer planks are hinged to the bronze so they can be folded down. It’s even on wheels so this gigantic table can be moved easily by just two people. Craftspeople had to invent new techniques to manage planks of this size, including a whole new join known as the River Joint for its meandering shape.

The estimated time of completion was 2013. They turned out to be off by nine years. The table was completed in 2022, just in time for Queen Elizabeth’s II Platinum Jubilee. Inscriptions were added to opposite ends of the table marking its discovery in the Diamond Jubilee year and completion in the Platinum Jubilee year.

The finished work found a suitably majestic setting for its enormousness in Ely Cathedral which was built on drained Fens, the same environment that saved the oak for so long, and is also the third longest medieval cathedral in England, so a perfect context for a 44-foot-long bog oak table. It has been placed on the stone floor under the Octagon Tower, a unique 14th century structure considered to be one of the masterpieces of medieval English architecture.

The table was installed at Ely in May and will remain there for visitors to enjoy until March 2023.

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Gold coin hoard in a cup found under kitchen floor

Monday, September 5th, 2022

A couple in North Yorkshire hit the kind of jackpot every history nerd has dreamed of: they discovered an early 18th century coin hoard buried under the floorboards of their kitchen. With more than 260 gold coins dating to between 1610 and 1727, it is one of the largest hoards of English 18th century coins ever found.

They found the hoard in July 2019 after pulling up the kitchen floors in their 18th century home. Six inches beneath the concrete underfloor, they spotted what they thought was an old electrical wire but turned out to be the mouth of a salt-glazed earthenware cup about the size of a soda can with a broken handle. Packed inside this smallish beaker were 264 gold coins.

The couple contacted the London auction firm Spink & Son and their experts authenticated the coin hoard. They also researched the home’s history and identified the likely hoarders: wealthy Hull merchant Joseph Fernley and his wife Sarah Maister. Joseph died in 1725, Sarah in 1745, so it seems Sarah buried the hoard after her husband’s death. Secure banks and paper money were available when she chose the floorboards over a safety deposit box — the Bank of England had been founded in 1694, the year Joseph and Sarah got married — but clearly they mistrusted financial institutions in favor of collecting and caching gold currency.

The Fernley-Maisters may have had some grounds for skepticism. The Bank of England was established in order to raise a loan of £1.2 million to the government of King William III so that he could build Britain into a global naval power capable of taking on the indisputably superior French fleet. France’s navy had defeated England in the Battle of Beachy Head in 1690 so soundly that it took control of the English Channel and caused a panic in Britain. The subscribers to the loan then became the Governors of the bank. For a family who built wealth by trading in goods imported from the Baltic, this probably looked like shenanigans were afoot.

The coins were well-circulated before they were collected and there is significant wear on most of them. They weren’t particularly rare either. It’s more like the collectors stashed their 50s and 100s regularly, including older ones they came across still in circulation. The rarest coin is a 1720 George I guinea which had two reverse sides (two tails, no head) because of a minting error. A 1675 Charles II guinea where the king’s name is misspelled CRAOLVS instead of CAROLVS is also notable. In face value alone, the coins are worth £100,000, but adding up their current individual market values that figure more than doubles to £250,000 ($290,000).

Unfortunately we will soon have a chance to know what price this unique hoard will go for because it is going under the hammer at Spink & Son on October 7th. Yes, the dream come true has turned into this history nerd’s nightmare. The hoard fell through yet another hole in the Treasure Act. By law, coins are declared treasure if there are two or more of them (check) and if they are at least 300 years old. The coroner’s inquest ruled that because the youngest coin was 292 years old when the hoard was unearthed in 2019, the entire hoard was less than 300 years old and therefore the property of the homeowners to dispose of as they wish. It’s heartbreaking, but every coin is being sold individually. No word on what’s happening to the earthenware cup they were stashed in.

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“Vampire” woman buried with sickle over her neck

Saturday, September 3rd, 2022

A unique 17th century vampire burial has been unearthed in the village of Pień, northern Poland. The woman was buried with a sickle over her neck and a padlock on her toe, devices used to prevent a strzyga, a vampire-like female demon in Polish folklore, from rising from her grave to suck the blood of the living.

Separating the head from the body in burial was essential to subduing a strzyga. The sickle embedded in an arc over the neck performed this function without anyone having to take on the gruesome task of decapitating a corpse. Should the revenant attempt to rise, the sickle would sever the head. It has been described by folklorists but this is the first archaeological example of the practice found in Poland.

Another object in the grave was a closed padlock on the left foot’s big toe. According to Professor Poliński, “This symbolizes the closing of a stage and the impossibility of returning.”

Archaeologists noted that the woman was buried in an unusual manner and with great care, which is surprising given traditional anti-vampiric customs. She had a silk cap on her head, which was very pricey in the 17th century and, according to archaeologists, indicates high social status.

The woman’s protruding front tooth is another eye-catching feature. This has led to speculation that her unusual appearance led superstitious locals in the 17th century to label her a witch or vampire.

Previous vampire burials unearthed in Poland deployed other methods of suppressing the undead, as in the case of 11 individuals unearthed in Gliwice in 2013 buried with their heads between their knees. This group also had unusual physical features — large eye sockets and narrow nose/upper jaw that would have given them a feline appearance — that may have made them targets of their community’s fears and suspicions.

The stryga burial was discovered in the historic cemetery of Pień, in use from the 10th century through the 17th. It was first excavated between 2006 and 2009 by archaeologists from the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, and they unearthed 68 graves, 57 of them from the 17th century. Nicolaus Copernicus University archaeologists returned this year to the 17th century section of the cemetery to salvage graves endangered by agricultural work and sand and gravel mining. During the rescue works, the vampire burial was discovered.

The remains have been recovered for study and conservation, and the team plans to return to Pień next year to continue their fieldwork in the cemetery.

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Iron Age graves disturbed by WWI shells found in France

Thursday, September 1st, 2022

An excavation in the village of Mercin-et-Vaux, northern France, has unearthed a Gallic necropolis scarred by shells and trench-digging activities during World War I. Archaeologists discovered 11 graves containing human remains dating to between the late 5th and 4th centuries B.C. Two of them are enclosure graves, one surrounded by a circular enclosure, the other by a square enclosure. Both of the enclosure graves were damaged. The circular enclosure was disturbed on its east end by shell impacts. The north wall of the quadrangle was cut into when a trench was dug, tearing up the skull and the left side of the body.

All but one of the burials are inhumation graves. They are orientated east to west and are loosely grouped in sets of two to four tombs. Six of the burials are nearer the edge of the excavated area, suggesting there is more of this necropolis still to be found. A 12th pit was found containing a few ceramic vessels and two fibulae aligned as they would have been if worn. There was no surviving skeleton and no evidence of cremation. The silty soil is a poor preserver of bones, so archaeologists believe it too was a grave but the remains disintegrated.

Of the ten inhumed individuals, nine are adults — three women, six men — and one is a child about seven to nine years of age whose grave goods suggest she was female.  The deceased were interred in supine position. Above their heads and at their feet are numerous ceramic containers and food offerings. Meat from pigs, sheep or goats and beef were found in the graves.

Three of the men’s graves are furnished with swords; one of them also has a dagger and a spear. The women’s grave’s contain jewelry (bracelets, fibulae) and utilitarian objects like a terracotta spindle whorl and an iron razor. The little girl has the richest adornment: a small torque around her neck and a bangle bracelet on her wrist.

The comparatively high proportion of men’s burials, armed ones at that, in this area may be evidence the deceased were roughly concentrated by sex and/or status within the wider necropolis.

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Unique 1910 synagogue mural restored

Sunday, August 28th, 2022

After 112 years, 36 of them spent enclosed behind a false wall, a unique mural that once decorated the Chai Adam synagogue in Burlington, Vermont, has been rescued, restored and put on display.

The Chai Adam congregation commissioned Lithuanian immigrant sign-painter Ben Zion Black to create the mural in 1910. Black was paid $200 (the equivalent of $5,314 today) and completed the large-scale triptych on the apse of the synagogue plus other ceiling paintings in just six months. He brought the Jewish Lithuanian artistic tradition he learned in the Old Country to Vermont, a style that initially caused consternation among the congregants who took issue with the bright colors and some of the imagery (musical instruments, angels).

Painted with oils on plaster in a boldly outlined style, the mural features a faux theatrical proscenium with a Decalogue supported by lions rampant center stage. The Ten Commandments are crowned and beribboned and Hebrew words on the ribbon read Keter Torah (Crown of the Torah), a phrase from the Talmud. The panel is topped by a sun with wide rays reaching the edges and floor. Dramatic layers of theatrical curtains drape over four columns and frame the central composition. Between the columns a forested landscape fades into the distance. Puffy clouds in a blue sky float over the  proscenium arch.

Synagogue murals were a popular tradition in Eastern Europe between the early 18th century and World War I, but they never took root in the United States. As far as anyone knows, the mural in the Chai Adam Synagogue is the only example in the US. The murals in European synagogues were destroyed by arson in the Holocaust, and there are only a handful of examples of the art form left anywhere in the world. The Burlington piece is the only surviving Eastern European-style synagogue mural in the US, and the only known survivor of Jewish Lithuanian remaining in the world. It’s also the largest surviving example of Lithuanian Folk Art in the world. (The Nazis didn’t like folk art even when it wasn’t Jewish, so they destroyed it at every opportunity.)

In this case, neglect appears to have been the key to its survival. Chai Adam merged with the Ohavi Zedek Synagogue in 1939 and the original building with mural still in place was put to several different uses (carpet store, warehouse). When the building was sold in 1986 to developers who converted it into apartments, the new owners agreed to wall up the art instead of demolishing it. It saw the light again in 2012, when Burlington’s Jewish community removed the wall to assess the condition of the painting. The mural had suffered.

The plaster was in poor condition and paint was flaking off in many sections. The plaster was stabilized and a conservator worked to reattach the paint. Then a temporary structure was built so that the building’s roof could be removed, the mural’s lathes reinforced, and the artwork could be encased in a metal frame for the move in 2015 by crane and then truck to the current Ohavi Zedek Synagogue.

In its new home, conservators restored damaged sections of paint and cleaned the entire mural, revealing its original vibrant color and detail. Paint was also matched and added where it had fallen off. That work took place this and last year, during the coronavirus pandemic, when the building was largely unused.

The conservation was completed earlier this year and the restored mural was unveiled in all its vibrant glory at a ceremony on June 28th. Public tours are scheduled to begin this October. Private tours can be booked online now.

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Cambridge medieval medical texts digitized

Sunday, August 21st, 2022

The University of Cambridge has embarked on a two-year project to catalogue, digitize and conserve 180 medieval medical manuscripts in the Cambridge Libraries collection. About 8,000 medical recipes spread in manuscripts at the University Library, the Fitzwilliam Museum and in a dozen individual Cambridge colleges will be published for the first time in the Cambridge Digital Library. High-resolution photographs of the recipes will be accompanied by transcriptions of the text and detailed descriptions of the historical context of the recipes and manuscripts.

The books vary widely. There are alchemical treatises, devotional books, legal books and of course medical texts, including personal compilations of home remedies. They are written in Latin, French and Middle English. Most of them to the 14th or 15th centuries with some outliers. The oldest manuscript is 1000 years old. Some are richly illuminated, containing elaborate diagrams of the human body and a prodigious diversity of urine color/smell/taste flowcharts.

The recipes themselves consist of lists of ingredients and instructions for preparation. A great many of them are common plants like herbs and flowers, but when animal ingredients are involved, things get uncomfortably close to that Neo-Babylonian ghost-raising ritual Irving Finkel wanted to try for Halloween a few years ago.

One treatment for gout involves stuffing a puppy with snails and sage and roasting him over a fire: the rendered fat was then used to make a salve. Another proposes salting an owl and baking it until it can be ground into a powder, mixing it with boar’s grease to make a salve, and likewise rubbing it onto the sufferer’s body.

To treat cataracts – described as a ‘web in the eye’ – one recipe recommends taking the gall bladder of a hare and some honey, mixing them together and then applying it to the eye with a feather over the course of three nights.

The medical recipe texts of Cambridge form one of the largest medieval medical writing collections in the UK and well-used by scholars, but only a small percentage of interested have had the opportunity to explore the books in person. Many are too fragile to be freely accessed at all and need emergency conservation before they can even be digitized.

The project team’s transcriptions will open the manuscripts’ contents to health researchers and historians of medicine, enabling keyword searching, surveys of treatments for specific ailments, or quantitative analyses of particular ingredients or preparatory techniques.

Cover-to-cover digitisation will enable researchers to see the recipes in their original setting: where they were written on the page and how they were presented, and whether they were added by different hands or at different times. Conservation will also guarantee continued physical access to the material for future generations of researchers.

“All of the digital images made by the Library’s Digital Content Unit, together with the detailed descriptions and transcriptions produced by the project cataloguers, will be published on the Cambridge Digital Library – making them available to anyone, anywhere in the world with an internet connection,” said Dr Freeman.

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Shrimp fishermen haul in wooden figurehead

Monday, August 15th, 2022

Fishermen casting their nets off the coast of the Wadden Islands, Texel, the Netherlands, hauled in not the delicious shellfish they expected, but a carved wooden head in exceptional condition. The crew of the shrimp cutter Wieringer 22 caught the sculpture on Tuesday, August 2. They named the head Barry and posted him on social media where he garnered an instant following.

Acting on advice from archaeologists, the crew placed the head in an eel tub filled with sea water to keep the wood from drying out and deteriorating while the ship was still out shrimping. On Thursday, August 4, the Wieringer 22 came into port where it was greeted by excited archaeologists.

The head is made of oak, which would under normal circumstances be susceptible to the depredations of shipworm, but the sculpture managed to avoid this fate by embedding itself in the sea floor after the wreck. The sediment prevented marine organisms from making a meal of the figurehead and kept it from rotting away. That coincidence is the only reason it is in such impeccable condition.

Michiel Bartels, a municipal archaeologist for that region of the Netherlands, told the Leeuwarder Courant that he believed the “very special discovery” came from a warship, possibly during the Eighty Years’ War, which stretched from the mid-1500s to the mid-1600s.

Bartels told the outlet that the man in the carving was wearing a specific kind of headgear called a Phrygian cap. “This hat symbolizes freedom and independence,” he said. “The Phyrigians were enslaved by the Romans. Slaves were shaved bald. When released from slavery, [Phyrigians] wore a cap to hide their baldness and signify their freedom. During the Eighty Years’ War, the symbol came back as a sign of independence.”

Experts believe that Barry – as the crew members called the figure – adorned the stern of the 17th-century ship. “The most important thing is to conserve the sculpture and examine it,” says Ad Geerdink, director of the Westfries Museum. – Many ships from the Dutch East India Company (VOC) rest at the bottom of the Wadden Sea. It is too early to say what kind of unit the sculpture is from. Figures of this type, placed at the stern of ships, were to impress and speak about the origin of the vessel. It was such a frenzy at sea. And this figure fits well with this habit.

The hat could lead researchers in another direction, away from the political symbolism of the 80 Years’ War and towards a profession: whaling. The Rijksmuseum has a similar woolen cap in its collection. It was one of many discovered in the graves of 185 Dutch whalers and whale oil workers in the Spitsbergen archipelago in Norway. The caps not only kept the sailors and workers warm in the frigid climate, but were markers of identity, each knitted in different colors and patterns. The connection between man and hat was so pronounced not even death could sever it, and many of the Dutchmen were buried wearing their hats.

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17th c. wreck laden with lime found on Lübeck riverbed

Saturday, August 13th, 2022

Maritime archaeologists have discovered the remains of a 17th century trading vessel on the bed of the Trave River near the Baltic port city of Lübeck, Germany. The ship’s remains were first spotted in February 2020 during a routine survey of the Trave’s shipping channels when sonars detected an anomaly on the riverbed at a depth of 36 feet. Divers were finally able to explore the site in August 2021, and they alerted Lübeck cultural heritage authorities that they’d identified a likely shipwreck. Archaeologists from the Institute of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology at Kiel University were commissioned to examine the wreck site in detail in November 2021.

Over the last eight months, archaeologists have made 13 dives for a total of 464 minutes, photographing, filming and mapping all of the site. There were no cannons, so researchers were able to eliminate the possibility that it was a warship. They determined it was a sailing vessel carrying at least 150 large barrels of cargo. About 70 of them were found in their original location on the ship. The other 80 were adjacent to them. That means the ship sank straight down and stayed upright. It never listed or capsized.

The wooden planking was dated to around 1650, the late Hanseatic period when Lübeck was a center of maritime trade in northern Europe. This type of medium-sized sailing ship was a workhorse of the Baltic Sea trade network, but equivalent wrecks have only been found in the eastern Baltic Sea region. This is the first one found in the western Baltic.

The wood of the cargo barrels has rotted away, but happy archaeological coincidence, we know what they contained: lime, because it hardens to a rock-hard solid in contact with water, so while the barrels disintegrated, the cargo has survived for centuries. Lime was a key building material used to produce mortar and plaster in the Middle Ages and Early Modern era. The ship was probably loaded up with lime at a Scandinavian point of origin and then sailed for Lübeck but didn’t quite make it.

The wreck was found in the middle of the canal at a bend in the river which was notoriously challenging to navigate. It’s not clear what caused the vessel to sink. Archaeologists believe it may have run aground at the ben and sprang a leak. It sank on an even keel (probably thanks to being so effectively ballasted by its heavy lime cargo) and landed upright on the riverbed.

The remains of the ship and cargo are under threat today from erosion and shipworm. It is only a matter of time before it disappears completely, so Kiel University researchers are working the City of Lübeck to protect the wreck. The default posture is in situ preservation whenever possible, but with the rapid deterioration of this wreck, experts are looking at the possibility of salvaging the timbers and cargo and preserving them on terra firma.

Raising the ship from the riverbed will give archaeologists a chance to fully investigate the hull and its construction, and perhaps identify its origin. “The salvage will probably also uncover previously unknown parts of the wreck that are still hidden in the sediment,” [the head of Lübeck’s archaeology department Manfred] Schneider said, such as rooms for the ship’s crew in the stern that may still hold everyday objects from the 17th century.

Although Lübeck was a center for Baltic trade during the Hanseatic period, very few authentic maritime objects from that time had survived, Schneider said, so the discovery of almost an entire ship from this era is remarkable. “We have something like a time capsule that transmits everything that was on board at that moment,” he said. “It throws a spotlight on the trade routes and transport options at the end of the Hanseatic period.”

Here is raw video taken of the wreck during a dive:

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Last Salem “witch” cleared 329 years after conviction

Friday, August 5th, 2022

Elizabeth Johnson Jr., convicted of witchcraft in Salem in 1693, has been officially exonerated by the Massachusetts Senate, the last Salem conviction to be reversed. The reversal was the handiwork of an eighth-grade civics class in North Andover middle school. Starting in 2020, students under the guidance of teacher Carrie LaPierre researched Elizabeth Johnson’s case and undertook the legal process to secure a formal pardon for her.

The frenzy of paranoia, delusion and religious fervor that saw hundreds of people accused of consorting with Satan and 20 of them executed began in January 1692 with a sick girl whose doctor could not heal her. He declared her bewitched instead. That sparked a raging brushfire of accusations, trials and 19 hangings. One accused witch, 71-year-old Giles Corey, refused to plead and stood mute in court to keep his estate from being confiscated and his family left destitute. He never made it to trial. He was pressed to death by heavy stones, an illegal punishment.

Just 22 years old when she was accused of witchcraft in August of 1692,  Elizabeth Johnson was manipulated into a false confession. (Accused witches who “confessed” often had their lives spared in exchange for snitching on other witches.) She told the magistrates she had renounced Christ and been rebaptized by the Devil, largely under the coercive influence of Martha Carrier, described by the Puritan Reverend Cotton Mather as the “Queen of Hell.”  (Martha Carrier was hanged for a witch on August 19, 1692.) Elizabeth confessed she had scratched her mark on the demonic Bible, consorted with Satan in the form of a black cat and “afflicted” several people by pinching them or effigies (“poppets”) she’d made of them.

She was imprisoned for six months, finally coming to trial in January 1693. Despite her confession, she still pled not guilty, but a jury of her peers convicted her on both counts of her indictment: convenanting with the Devil and witchcraft. She was sentenced to death by hanging, but managed to dodge the noose just long enough for the mass hysteria to subside. She and the two others convicted with her were reprieved by order of Massachusetts Bay Governor William Phips.

She wasn’t exonerated, however. Even as the colony repented of the rush to accusation, use of spectral (ie, dream) evidence and general all-around bullshittery of the judicial response, everyone else, dead or living, would eventually be legally cleared of wrongdoing but her. In 1710, Elizabeth’s brother Francis petitioned on her behalf for Reversal of Attainder and for restitution of the moneys he spent provisioning her during her six months in jail. In 1711, Elizabeth herself petitioned for Reversal of Attainder, pointing out that she had been inexplicably left off the list of 22 people named in the legislation overturning the witchcraft convictions.

Her petition went nowhere. When she died in 1747 at the age of 77, she still had a felony witchcraft conviction on her jacket. She was buried in an unmarked grave in the Old Burying Ground in North Andover. Elizabeth Johnson Jr. continued to fall through the cracks centuries after her death. She was not named in a 1957 bill passed by the Massachusetts legislature exonerating more of the accused and convicted witches. That law was amended in 2001, and again Elizabeth Johnson Jr. was left off the list.

It’s not clear why she kept getting overlooked. It might have been simply administrative error. Her mother, Elizabeth Johnson Sr., was also swept up in the madness. She was accused and brought to trial on witchcraft charges on January 6, 1693. She pled not guilty and was acquitted. Authorities could well have overlooked the convicted Junior because she had the same name as the acquitted Senior. There may also have been social prejudices at play: Elizabeth never married or had children, and according to her grandfather, among others, she was “simplish at the best.” With no husband or children to advocate for her and limited cognitive abilities, she was in a highly ignorable category.

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Conserving an 18th c. portrait and the waistcoat in it

Monday, August 1st, 2022

The Victoria & Albert Museum has recently made a rare double acquisition of an 18th century portrait and the exact silk waistcoat the sitter is wearing in the painting. Both objects are currently undergoing conservation.

The portrait of Edward Curtis of Mardyke House, Bristol, was painted by Italian portraitist Marco Benefial in 1750. Edward Curtis bought the waistcoat as part of a suit with matching coat while he was on the Continent. His father had made a fortune in the sugar trade, and Edward, then 24 years old, traveled through Europe on the Grand Tour as expected of every wealthy young Englishman of the time. Buying elegant new clothes in France was on the de rigeur checklist for Grand Tourists. Getting your portrait done in Rome wearing your new French silk brocade suit was too.

The waistcoat was made of luxurious brocaded Gros de Tours taffeta embellished with three different types of metal threads (two silver and one gold) woven into a stylized shell pattern. Roses with two leaves are brocaded in red, yellow, purple and green colored silk threads on the front and back. The weaving technique employed is typical of the master weavers of Lyon in France, but the quality of the execution in this waistcoat is a step down from that, suggesting it was woven in Lyon style elsewhere, perhaps in Tours. Nineteen of the original buttons, silver metal star-shaped ornaments over a wooden core, have survived. The original matching jacket, alas, has not.

When conservators began their work, the waistcoat in the portrait no longer matched the color of the waistcoat itself. Discolored varnish had yellowed the light silver background of the vest, and centuries of dust had darkened the surface. The waistcoat was actually in better superficial condition than the portrait. It has been altered over time, with panels added to the back to make room for a Mr. Curtis’ middle aged spread, but the brocaded silk has been lovingly tended to and required very little conservatorial intervention.

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