Conserving the Governor Hutchinson Mirror

News, Portfolio

Milton Public Library, Milton, MA

Harvard Art was chosen to do the conservation work on a mirror that once belonged to Thomas Hutchinson, the last royal governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony. The American-made, 71-inch-by-44-inch gilt mirror, dates to around 1765, belongs to the Milton Historical Society and was recently reinstalled at the Milton Public Library in September, 2010. A basket of flowers from the top of the frame had come off the mirror and was in scattered pieces. This central feature was put back together and missing elements from the basket and other areas of the frame were recreated, gessoed, and gilded to match the existing surface.

It is interesting to note that this mirror frame has had several different surfaces throughout its life. The evidence of the different surface treatments could be seen when looking at chipped areas on the surface. The originally off-white paint color scheme was repeated three more times with subtle shade differences before a change was made to black paint. The current gilded surface is documented as being done in 1918.