Iconic Tudor Place Waxwork Off to Conservator

A landmark project in preservation and conservation began last week with the transport to a conservator’s studio of a hand-crafted “grotto-work,” or tableau, made of wax, shells and other materials and housed in the original wood-and-glass case. Created for Martha Washington in 1783 and belonging to the collection of Tudor Place Historic House & Garden, the miniature classical wax figures and the elaborate wax, shell, and paper landscape had fallen into a state of disrepair after nearly 230 years at Mount Vernon and in the home of Martha Washington’s descendant, Martha Parke Custis Peter. Surroundart, specialists in fine arts transport, were engaged to move the highly fragile object safely to the conservator’s studio.

To prepare for the $37,400 conservation funded by The Richard C. von Hess Foundation, Tudor Place staff consulted outside conservators and experts from peer institutions that included the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, in a process that began in June 2010. The conservation project is expected to take approximately two years and involve specialists in wax, textiles and paper. (More of its details and a vivid video portrait of the tableau can seen at this link on the Tudor Place blog.)

Tudor Place Historic House & Garden is an independent historic institution owned and operated by the Tudor Place Foundation, Inc., whose mission is to educate the public about American history and culture with a focus on the historical development of Georgetown and the Federal City. From 1805, Tudor Place was home to Martha Washington’s granddaughter and six generations of her descendants, the Custis-Peter family. The waxwork conservation helps advance the Foundation’s commitment to protecting, preserving, maintaining, and interpreting the historic property and the collections, while instilling the value of the past in the public perception.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *