Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho
I spent a good long while last night examining the console table. The damage goes far beyond what I initially presumed. There’s over-painting throughout. And it’s not just the gold glitter paint, beneath the gold there’s a hideous bright red. Beneath the bright red there’s green covering up parts of the original design.
I’ve been over all my messages to the person who did this just to make sure that at no moment I did anything that could have contributed to this disaster. I’m confident I didn’t.
-In my first message I asked if the person did this sort of work and sent photographs. I also described how the work was originally done: green field, red gesso/bole, gilding and then shading. They said they could do the restorations.
-I invited them to see the item in person before committing. After seeing the table in person and telling me they had studied art, the person insisted they had the skills to do the restoration and went as far as to say that very fine detailed work like this was their speciality.
-A few weeks ago this person said they were going to gild a frame with gold paint – a chill went down my spine and I explained to them that using gold paint is not gilding. And that the style of work present on the console is always done with gold leaf.
Despite that and other exchanges in which I discussed the techniques used on the table, this person ignored everything I said and proceeded to completely destroy the original work by covering it with various layers of gunk. I’m struggling because I don’t want to be unkind, but I feel this person’s reckless disregard for the property of others crossed a line and perhaps I should name them publicly to ensure this doesn’t happen to someone else.
Here’s the console in original condition with the 18th century gilding, needing only the repair of the missing decorations on the legs.
And now here it is covered in gold glitter paint (resinous!), imitation gold leaf and with the designs distorted and dabbed with paint. On top of all that is an incredibly thick layer of wax.