The term Famillé Rose was first introduced by French author and art historian Albert Jacquemart (1808-1875). As the name suggests, Famillé Rose decoration refers to the distinctive use of pink or rose as part of a new colour palette in porcelain production. These colours appear as polychrome over-glaze enamel decoration on porcelain, the first of which was produced during the late Kangxi reign (1661-1722). It is characterized by a colour-wash effect, which allows graduations and intensities of colours to happen which makes the subject more three-dimensional.
Luckily, I also found some similar objects in the collection of the Beijing Palace Museum. These objects were all produced during the Tongzhi Reign (1861-1875) in Jingdezhen. Based on their similarities, it is reasonable to believe that my object also shares the same manufacturing origins with the examples in the previous reign. This made me feel even more excited to have this as my first object!
This project provided a really good exercise for cleaning. The object has been repaired before, on some leading edges there was brownish material, which was possibly the adhesive residue from the previous repair. Besides general surface dirt, there were multiple areas of surface staining, which might also be caused during the previous repair, as they shared the same colour with the material on the leading edges.
Firstly, I cleaned the surface with a soft brush to remove the loose dirt on the surface. Then I carried out series of solvent tests with cotton swabs to find the most appropriate solvent to remove the residue along the breakedges as well as the surface dirt and staining. It turned out that the brownish material could be removed by room temperature deionized water, while warm water could work more efficiently. Thus after I removed most of the previous material by swab I then used a steam-cleaner, which could provide water vapour with high temperature and pressure at the same time, to further clean the leading edges. The technique should be carefully performed with appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment). This technique was only applied on leading edges because it might be too strong for the enamel decoration and the gilding, which are usually fired at a lower temperature than the porcelain body and thus are more susceptible to physical damage. The angle at which the pressure is applied is also important to protect fragile areas such as delicate over-glaze enamels and potential running cracks.
During the cleaning process, I also found that several bonds from the previous repair were still holding the shards together. As the adhesive material might further deteriorate, and the colour was unsettling to the aesthetic appearance of the object, I decided to dismantle the bond. I made a paper poultice with warm water, and then applied this around the shard, initially covered with cling film. After an hour and a half, when I uncovered the poultice, the bond had already been dismantled, and the pieces were separating easily.
After all shards were steam-cleaned, I mapped out a bonding plan and did a dry run formation of the shards supported with tape. This process could also help to check the cleanliness of the leading edges, as any dirt or stain on the edge would show a yellowish or greyish colour along the break line, especially on the white background such as the exterior surface of this object. Thus it is important to ensure that the leading edges were thoroughly cleaned before bonding, as any adhesive applied could only strengthen the colour caused by dirt or staining that remained.
I found that there were still several leading edges that were not clean enough, so I used a commercial detergent powder that works based on enzymes. The powder was dissolved in warm water and applied on those leading edges through poulticing with cotton swabs for twenty minutes. I avoided contact between the poultice and any gilding. The leading edges were then steam-cleaned and, once dry, the shards were ready for bonding! (See Fig. 4)