Horse Mural Highlights Stratford Hall’s Ongoing Conservation Efforts

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Media Contact: Jim Schepmoes
804-493-8038 ext. 8119

For Immediate Release

STRATFORD, VA, (May 12, 2010) – In recognition of May as National Museum Month and in joining with other Virginia museums in empathizing conservation efforts, Stratford Hall’s Southwest Outbuilding features a newly restored 19th century horse mural over the fireplace in the work shop room. The conservation project, which cost $7,600, was sponsored by the Society of the Lees of Virginia.

The treatment of the horse mural began last fall under the direction of paintings conservator Scott Nolley from Fine Art Conservation of Virginia. At that time Nolley and his associate came to photograph and trace the horse mural (using a polyester film overlay) prior to any treatment and to clean the mural of any surface dirt. During this phase they also located voids within the layers of plaster supporting the image, and injected a consolidant to provide more stability to the wall structure.

At the same time, Nolley began to remove overpaint on the fireplace face, working back to the original plaster layer. Working with Phil Mark, Stratford Hall’s Director of Preservation, conservation treatment continued until the entire fireplace face was freed of modern paint layers. The final result was a location of additional areas of historic pigment previously unexposed. The perimeter of the horse was also freed of modern overpainting, exposing an arched tail and further details heretofore unknown to exist. Conservators used the same polyester overlay to map these additional areas of pigment.

In April, Nolley returned to fill the holes drilled for the plaster consolidant and other areas of loss. Using watercolor paints, Nolley also inpainted any large fills and lightened the tones of modern infill of plaster around the horse. This allows the horse to ‘read’ as a whole from a distance, but closer examination still allows for an understanding of original versus modern painted areas.

“This successful horse mural conservation effort both signifies Stratford’s continued commitment to conservation and the important role groups such as the Society of the Lees have in these efforts,” said Gretchen Goodell, Curator, Stratford Hall. “The support from members of the general public and from private groups is critical in saving these treasurers for future generations,” Goodell added.

For more information on this and other conservation efforts underway at Stratford Hall, visit and read blogs by our staff members and get updates on our Facebook page.