28 x 20 3/4 in. (71.1 x 52.7 cm)
Medium and Support:
Papier-maché with mother-of pearl inlay and gold leaf
Gift of Mrs. Charles H. Hoeing
Location: Not currently on view
Between 1750 and 1850, furniture and decorative objects made from papier-maché enjoyed great popularity, especially in France and England. Multiple layers of macerated paper pulp mixed with a binder such as glue or flour were pressed into a mold to dry. After it was baked at a temperature of 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, the substance was strong enough to saw and shape like wood. Extremely thin slices of mother-of-pearl were applied to the surface of the finished piece and the entire surface was “japanned” (coated with asphaltum, amber, linseed oil and rosin in turpentine) until it was smooth again. Finally, the varnish covering the glistening bits of shell was sanded away, creating the effect of expensive inlay.
[Label text from It Came From the Vault exhibition, 2013]