Enamel insert restorations on Limoges painted enamels: A study on a remarkable nineteenth-century restoration technique with particular attention to the original paillon designs

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Schwahn, Birgit;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 59, Number 3, p.161-179 (2014)


Two sixteenth-century Limoges painted enamel plaques by Léonard Limosin in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, show a remarkable restoration technique consisting of separately enameled pieces that have been inserted into areas where original enamel was lost. A detailed investigation of the two plaques brought information about this former restoration method and the materials used. Investigation included optical microscopy, UV-A examination, and X-radiography for identification and mapping of the insert restorations, scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy for analyzing organic restoration material as well as X-ray fluorescence for studying the enamel compositions. A survey of six other Limoges painted enamel collections in the USA was carried out, which revealed many more of these insert restorations and indicated particular damages related to the so-called paillon designs on silver or gold foils. A literature review was undertaken focusing on possible causes of the damage as well as on persons and workshops that may have executed the insert restorations.