Sunday, September 13, 2015

Reinstalling the Ruins of Rome

by Rebecca Kurtz


In last week’s blog, we talked about the floor cloth that once existed in the center hall of Schuyler Mansion, and the reproduction floor cloth that adorns the floor now. This week, we will talk about the other major piece with which Schuyler embellished that hall; the Ruins of Rome wallpaper. The Ruins of Rome was a hand painted English wallpaper featuring scenes of Rome’s ruins in shades of gray, based off an engraving of a painting by architect and painter, Giovanni Paolo Panini (1691-1765.) The scenes were surrounded by soft yellows and grays, and the wallpaper was hung up in sections. Schuyler Mansion was one of three houses in the United States to display the Ruins of Rome, the other two being the no longer extant Van Rensselaer Manor, which was also located in Albany, New York, and the Jeremiah Lee Mansion in Marblehead, Massachusetts (where the wallpaper still hangs.) Although the same wallpaper was present in all three of these homes,

each home had its own unique version. Despite the fact that the Van Rensselaer Manor no longer stands, the Ruins of Rome that once hung in the home are still exhibited to the public at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, in the American Wing.
The Ruins of Rome at the Jeremiah Lee Mansion

 Although the center hall at Schuyler Mansion is still quite picturesque today, the Ruins of Rome is conspicuously missing from the walls. For years, staff and preservationists working at Peeble’s Island State Historic Site in Waterford, New York sought an artist who would be able to recreate the historic wallpaper. However, such an arrangement never transpired. More recently, photographic reconstruction has become an accessible and effective technology. Therefore, as part of our 100th anniversary restoration project, a digital reproduction of the Ruins of Rome will be installed in the center hall, as well as the upstairs hallway (called the “salon” by the Schuylers) where the wallpaper also hung.
The Ruins of Rome at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The process of creating a digital reproduction of the Ruins of Rome is currently being undertaken by Rich Claus and Erin Moroney.  In 2013 and 2014, they journeyed to both the
Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Jeremiah Lee Mansion to study and photograph the scenes featured on both versions of the wallpaper. After their trips, Rich and Erin returned to their lab, where they utilized a special computer program to digitally “stitch” each scene together. After that, another computer program was able to edit the architectural elements out of the digital images and blend the images together in order to create a uniform color and feel.

At this point in time, we are anticipating that the digital reproduction of Ruins of Rome will be printed and installed in 2016. Until then, tours are still being conducted at the mansion, and going on one is a great way to get a sense of the before and after of our restoration project! To stay up to date with news of the restoration, don’t forget to follow this blog by clicking subscribe at the bottom of this page!

No comments:

Post a Comment