Louis XVI Console Table 

Morven Park - The Westmoreland Davis Memorial Foundation

HISTORIC OVERVIEW

Before Treatment: Console TableThe carved and gilt table designed in the Louis XV style was acquired by Governor and Mrs. Davis for their home in Leesburg, VA.  Mr. Davis had been a successful corporate attorney in New York City at the turn of the twentieth century before returning to his boyhood home in Virginia.  He purchased Morven Park, just outside the town of Leesburg, where they entertained in their lavish home and turned the property into an agricultural showplace.  Mr. Davis eventually entered state politics, becoming the Governor of Virginia in 1918.  The table is part of the furnishings of the recently preserved mansion in Morven Park.

PRE-TREATMENT CONDITION

Before Treatment: Insect Damage and Cracked WoodThe gilt table was in unstable and poor condition having been repaired numerous times during its period of historic use and subsequent exhibit in the mansion.  The structural integrity had been compromised by wood boring insects which had infested a majority of the individual components. The joinery had been weakened by countless nails and screws added during those earlier repairs.  The legs had been repositioned as the carved stretchers were cut to remove insect riddled tenons, requiring blocks being added or having had sections of the “feet” sawn off to level the table.  Several sections of carving were split and missing from the table apron. Large areas of gilding had been lot to over zealous cleaning and housekeeping procedures.  Lifting and tenting gesso were noted overall.

TREATMENT

During Treatment: Table DisassembledThe Westmoreland Davis / Morven Park furniture collection was surveyed by B. R. Howard & Associates, Inc. in 2006; the console table was one of several pieces identified as requiring conservation during that assessment. Loss of structural integrity caused by the insect damaged joinery required the complete disassembly of the table; however, areas of lifting and flaking gesso were consolidated prior to beginning treatment of structural concerns. Many of the old repairs and modern fasteners were documented and removed.  The wood was consolidated using a reversible synthetic resin injected into the insect holes using hypodermic syringes.  Sections of the damaged joinery were reconstructed using tulip poplar inserts adhered using hot hide glue. The table was reassembled, adjusting the position of the legs to allow the table to sit level after treatment.  Areas of lost gesso were filled and areas were in-gilded to match adjacent finishes.


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