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The Cast Courts, Victoria and Albert Museum [architectural paint research]

Publication Date
  • K250 Conservation Of Buildings
  • Design


The Cast Courts were created between 1870-73 and designed by Major General Scott. An account of the time records briefly the colours used and other details. There had been no previous research of these significant and unique historic spaces. Crick Smith undertook the investigation during 2010-2011. The processes involved uncovering of physical evidence on site, the microscopic examination of removed paint cross-sections and the appraisal of archival evidence and historic photographs. The research was necessary to endorse the accuracy of the contemporary account and to define the exact locations, applications and treatments of colour. Following microscopic analysis areas of original stencil work and plain wall face colours were revealed and colour correction undertaken. Numerical colour references by calibrated spectrophotometer were provided with colour matched samples of the original finishes. The research identified the nature, detail and condition of the overpainted original ornate schemes within the Cast Court Galleries. This information was crucial in providing the client team with firm evidence needed to make decisions on suitable decorative schemes for the refurbished gallery spaces. This included assessments on whether elements of the original decoration could be exposed, conserved or replicated in part to complement necessary new work. As Crick Smith reports are written for a range of clients, information is deliberately presented in a style that is easily accessible, technical terms are fully explained to enable understanding by a non-specialist reader, as it is understood that not all members of the client team may be experienced in understanding this type of investigation.

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