Action at the Angel! | August 27, 2018

Keeping with its mission to preserve art for future generations and the terms of the original bequest left by George Robert White’s sister, Harriet J. Bradbury, the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) lent its conservation expertise to the City of Boston to conserve the iconic “Angel” statue in the Public Garden. For two weeks in August, the MFA teamed up with the Friends, the Boston Parks Department, and Matthew Reilley of the Central Park Conservancy in New York to conserve the 1924 statue Casting Bread Upon the Waters by Daniel Chester French. The first phase of the project saw a dry ice cleaning technique applied to the sculpture to remove the old top coat finish, clearing any external damage that had been caused by environmental & manmade factors. The second phase, which commenced on August 27th, utilized a re-patina process where a heat torch was used to apply a new protective coat of wax, meant to even out color discrepancies and protect the original, high-quality patina.

The first phase of the project saw a dry ice cleaning technique applied to the sculpture to remove the old top coat finish, clearing any external damage that had been caused by environmental & manmade factors. The second phase utilized a re-patina process where a heat torch was used to apply a new protective coat of wax in order to even out color discrepancies and protect the original, high-quality patina.

The re-patina process is meant to preserve what sculpture and art experts refer to as the “legibility of the form.” The conservators used a spot-patina process, a minimal procedure meant to conserve as much of the original patina as possible, considered by the conservators to be in pristine condition. The conservators pick a spot on the Angel they want to work on, use a torch to heat the bronze to 210-220ºF, then apply the hot wax coating. A chip brush is then used to even out the wax coating, paying careful attention to any nooks in the bronze. In this process, the conservators applied two coats to the Angel to add an extra level of protection.

The George Robert White Memorial Fountain, located in the northwest corner of the Public Garden, was commissioned in 1922 by the City of Boston. Completed in 1924 by famed sculptor Daniel Chester French, the fountain was discontinued in the 1980s. A 2016 restoration by the Friends of the Public Garden, in partnership with the Boston Parks & Recreation Department and the MFA, restored the functionality of the fountain and improved the surrounding landscape.

2018-10-16T11:29:31+00:00