Mount Pleasant: Discovery of 18th-Century Painted Wood Graining

As a decorative and historic finishes major at Winterthur, I work on a wide variety of projects ranging from architecture to painted furniture. I spent my third-year internship in the Furniture and Woodwork Conservation Lab of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and one of my projects was a paint study of the first-floor stair hall at Mount Pleasant, an 18th-century house in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. Although it was covered by more than 20 layers of paint, we were able to identify the original finish as a painted decorative technique known as wood graining using microscopy and a variety of analytical techniques.

Read more about the results and implications of the study on the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Web site at philamuseum.org/woodgraining.

Stephanie Oman revealing the original wood graining in the stair hall at Mount Pleasant. Photo by Peg Olley.

Stephanie Oman is a member of the WUDPAC class of 2012 with a major in decorative and historic finishes. She knew from an early age that she was interested in historic architecture and painted surfaces, and she earned an undergraduate degree in art conservation from the University of Delaware in 2008. After working at the Baltimore Museum of Art for a year on an IMLS grant project, Stephanie returned to Delaware for the WUDPAC masters program. In addition to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Stephanie has interned at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh and Shangri La in Honolulu during her graduate studies.

Winterthur is celebrating 60 years of graduate programs in art conservation and material culture studies in the current exhibition A Lasting Legacy: Sixty Years of Winterthur Graduate Programs, on view through June 16, 2013.

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One Response to Mount Pleasant: Discovery of 18th-Century Painted Wood Graining

  1. Bill & Elaine Pease says:

    Congratulations, Stephanie, for your discovery and analysis that the original finish of the stair hall at Mount Pleasant was faux wood graining. Not white at all! What a surprise and delight. Well done.

    We also found the four sections of your study on the Philadelphia Museum of Art website, cited above, to be fascinating. Many thanks.

    We feel very confident that your future career in your chosen field will be superbly productive and , we hope, very satisfying, indeed. We wish you good luck, although we suspect that you’re not even going to need it!

    Bill & Elaine Pease, Lancaster, Pa. (Winterthur members for many decades and at least a couple hundred of visits)

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