The Texas Cowboy Monument 

State of Texas - State Preservation Board

HISTORIC OVERVIEW

The Texas Cowboy MonumentThis bronze sculpture is a life-size depiction of a cowboy riding a horse.  It was sculpted by Constance Whitney Warren in the early 1900s as a tribute to the “rough and romantic riders of the range.” Ms. Warren was born in New York City in 1888. She came from a wealthy background and spent a significant potion of her time in Newport, Rhode Island. However, as a schoolgirl, she was fascinated by her father’s frontier experiences and began to sculpt and draw pictures of horses. After World War I, she began to sculpt seriously and in 1923, The Cowboy sculpture received an honorable mention at the Paris Salon, the once official art exhibition of Paris. The sculpture is currently installed the grounds of the Texas State Capitol as a monument to the “native home of the cowboy.”

PRE-TREATMENT CONDITION

Before Treatment: Deteriorating LacquerThe Texas Cowboy Monument was found to be in excellent condition; the result of previous conservation treatment and the diligence of the State Preservation Board staff that annually performed the established maintenance procedures. However, it was observed that the protective lacquer coating was beginning to fail or deteriorate with continual exposure to sunlight and weather.  These areas, identified by an opaque white blanching or haze, were found primarily in recessed areas where rainwater would not drain and remained until evaporation occurred.  Minor areas of corrosion were beginning to develop in those areas where the lacquer was thinned and/or lost.

TREATMENT

During Treatment: Warming MetalPrior to our arrival in Austin, the State Preservation Board staff had erected scaffolding and washed the sculpture using a dilute detergent and potable water solution; the sculpture was then rinsed with potable water and blotted dry with soft cotton cloths. Upon our arrival, the monument was then wiped down with mineral spirits and high pressure washed to remove old wax coatings. The bronze was once again cleaned using a proprietary degreaser and immediately rinsed with water and dried using soft cotton cloths. This process was repeated three times to insure that all protective waxes had been removed. The sculpture was allowed to dry overnight before re-application of  a thinned Incralac coating and allowed to dry.  A second Incralac coating was applied and the sculpture was allowed to dry for twelve hours. The sculpture was then carefully warmed using a propane torch during application of a thinned microcrystalline wax mixture. Throughout the process, B.R. Howard & Associates provided hands-on training to the State Preservation staff that would be responsible for the continual maintenance of the sculpture until once again being inspected by conservators.   


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