Hall Conservation were delighted to be asked to restore the Mermaid Fountain, the centrepiece of the Italian Garden at Blenheim Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The bronze fountain was designed by American artist, Thomas Waldo Storey, and dates to 1898. The fountain comprises four groups of winged tridents sitting upon four dolphins with another swimming alongside. Above the tridents is a pink marble basin in which stands a female figure draped with a cloth and holding aloft a gold crown.
Our team completed an initial Therma tech steam clean of the fountain to remove the layers of algae and limescale and dirt. Given the breakdown of the paint, it was essential that the surface of the fountain be cleaned back to a stable layer.
Several paint strippers were tested with the most efficient being applied and left to allow it to penetrate several of the paint layers. The bronze was steam cleaned again to ensure there were no residues remaining from the paint stripper and also to remove any further loose sections. The bronze was later painted using a Quick Dry Primer for non-ferrous metals followed by one coat of Micaceous Iron Oxide and two coats of topcoat.
Once painted, 12 hour gold size was applied to the painted areas and left until ready when triple thick gold leaf was applied to the surface. Altogether our skilled craftspeople used over 350 books of 23.5 carat Old English gold, a total of nearly 9000 sheets. When the gilding was complete, a varnish was applied to act as a barrier layer between the gold leaf and water abrasion.
Wide view of Blenheim (c) Blenheim Palace and used with permission.
Find out more about Blenheim at: www.BlenheimPalace.com