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MEMORIAL TO RANDOLPH CALDECOTT
Illustrator
by Sir Alfred GILBERT, RA

STAGE 1:  INITIAL REPORT & RECOMMENDATIONS

DESCRIPTION

The wall memorial to Randolph Caldecott, which was completed in January 1892, is located in the south east corner of the Crypt.  Black marble with grey flecks has been used for the main supporting panel and a brown and cream polished limestone for the architectural forms and mouldings.  There are two supporting Corinthian-style columns made from bronze, one either side of a niche.  Standing on a plinth within the niche is a figure of a boy, head bent in sorrow, wearing traditional Breton costume - a head dress and simple gown Note 1

The boy is made from aluminium with painted face, hands and feet and is holding a bronze medallion depicting the head and shoulders of Caldecott in relief Note 2.

It has been suggested that the head dress may have been added at a later date at the request of Caldecott's widow and that originally the boy may have worn a simple head scarf.

A surface coating, now discoloured, has been applied over the painted flesh areas and the front of the robes, but not into all recessed areas.

Notes

1:  Caldecott illustrated a travel book entitled Breton Folk and the boy seen here in traditional Breton dress may represent one of the illustrations from this book.  [There is no such illustration - KA..]    Back to Description

2:  A medallion like this one is awarded each year in the USA for the best illustrator of children's books - for details, click here.    Back to Description

Under the plinth are four lines of cut lettering describing Caldecott as follows: 

An artist whose sweet and dainty grace
has not seen its kind surpassed
whose humour was as quaint
as it was inexhaustible.

The spaces between the letters have been cut with rough lines and these areas have been gilded.  Above the niche are four more lines of similar lettering; these read as follows: 

Randolph Caldecott
Born at Chester 1846
Died in Florida and buried there
1886.

Dimensions

Height:  2073 mm
Width:  852 mm
Depth:  355 mm

CONDITION

Structurally the monument is sound.

The monument is very dusty with accumulations of fluff and dust in all the recessed areas and behind the medallion.  There is a significant layer of dust on the top surfaces of the mouldings and most notably on the plinth.  There is a cobweb and a large piece of chewing gum on the under surfaces of two lower mouldings.

White deposits can be seen in recessed areas and corners of many of the mouldings.  This is likely to be the residue from cleaning products which have not been rinsed adequately.

There is white paint around all the edges of the black marble and some additional splashes.  This is the same paint as on the surrounding walls.  There are blue paint spots on the left arm.

Fig08, Right Hand, Before ConservationFig03, Left Hand, Before Conservation The surface varnish/coating, which has been applied to the front of the figure, has now discoloured to a reddish-brown.  On the lower edges of the coating, it has formed a thicker line with some drips of up to 2mm in depth.  This is most noticeable on the left arm and right hand, and to a lesser extent along the edges of the robe.  This discolouration has resulted in a very blotchy, dark brown appearance, especially on the face and hands of the figure.

Fig 5, Feet, before conservation, 2000. The paint on the toes of the figure is very worn, with the base metal showing through.  The feet are at a level easily reached by the public and repeated handing is the most likely reason for this.  

Fig 2, Face, Before Conservation There are two quite large areas of paint loss on the forehead and left cheek and approximately six smaller losses over the face.

There are a number of cracks at the bottom right of the stone surround, one of which runs underneath the lettering.  The cracks have been filled with a dark brown material which does not match the surrounding stone.  Small areas of this fill are missing.

The letters "SB" have been scratched into the metal of the robes.
  

CLEANING TESTS - dirt and surface coating

The following tests were carried out on discreet, recessed areas of the surface coating on the hands and robe.  All chemicals were applied on cotton wool swabs and where appropriate were rinsed with de-ionised water.

  1. de-ionised water
  2. de-ionised water and Triton
  3. tri-ammonium citrate 4%
  4. acetone
  5. white spirit
  6. Industrial Methylated Spirit (IMS)
  7. xylene
      

Results

Tests 1, 2, 5:  gave very little result, some surface dirt was removed.
Test 7:  an orange/brown colour on swab indicates removal of a small amount of the surface coating.
Tests 3 and 4:  removed the surface coating slightly more readily than Test 7.
Test 6:  fairly rapidly removed the surface coating.

The orange/brown colour seen on the cotton swabs after cleaning with xylene, tri-ammonium citrate, acetone and IMS indicates that the surface coating is readily dissolved.  Little dirt is removed before the coating dissolves.

The marble supporting panel and architectural forms are dirty.  Cotton swabs with de-ionised water and Triton removed a small amount of dirt from these surfaces.

Paint splatters are removable with acetone or with a scalpel.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

After cleaning, as listed in points 1-9 below, the larger areas of paint loss on the face, hands and feet should be retouched. The amount of retouching to be undertaken is best decided once the cleaning has been completed.

Procedure

  1. Dust thoroughly, working into all recesses with a soft brush and hand-held vacuum cleaner.
  2. Remove chewing gum and spiders webs.
  3. Remove paint splatters.
  4. Remove white cleaning product residue with de-ionised water and Triton or IMS.
  5. Clean the figure with de-ionised water and Synperonic N to remove any surface dirt but leaving the discoloured coating in place.
  6. Clean supporting panel and architectural forms (as no.5.)
  7. Remove thick drips of the discoloured coating with IMS.
  8. Remove coating from flesh areas of the figure.
  9. Re-touch larger losses on face, hands and feet using acrylics. Use matting agent if necessary.
  10. Wax using microcrystalline wax.
      

S Wright
Conservator, St. Paul's Cathedral
27 March 2000

2000 St. Paul's Cathedral, London, England.   Reproduced with permission.

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