Lead Sculptures Collection

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami, FL

We were engaged in a multi-year contract to preserve the outdoor sculpture collection of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, which included the Commedia dell’arte figures of Pulchinello and Harlequin, and Narcissus (a popular image from Greek mythology depicted here with a shepherd’s crook). Like other lead sculptures at the site, the hollow castings were vulnerable to damage in the sub-tropical environment.

All three lead sculptures had become distorted as the lead sagged and deformed under its own weight with no armature. In addition, inappropriate previous repairs introduced new and difficult to reverse materials while solving few problems. The accumulation of deformations and previous interventions left the sculptures with a very unsatisfactory appearance and unstable condition.

The sculptures were shipped to us’s conservation facility in Maryland, where surface accumulations, concrete, fibreglass, and synthetic resins were removed using a combination of hand and power tools, micro-air abrasion, and acid baths. Internal armatures were designed and installed to support the weight of each statue using existing holes and access points. A new base and crook were created for Narcissus. Cracks and previous losses were filled with solder and lead sheets. At the completion of work, a patina was chemically developed on the surface and they were re-installed in their original locations.