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Saturday, June 1 • 10:45am - 11:15am
(Textiles + Wooden Artifacts) Treatment of a Suite of Baroque Revival Style Seating Furniture

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A suite of Baroque revival style seating furniture was treated in preparation for restoration of the second floor living hall at Biltmore, George Washington Vanderbilt’s house and estate in Asheville, North Carolina.

Biltmore was conceived and built by George Washington Vanderbilt, who employed architect Richard Morris Hunt and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Boasting approximately four acres of floor space, the 250 room house was first opened to family and friends for Christmas of 1895. George’s only daughter Cornelia and her husband, John Cecil, opened Biltmore House to the public in 1930. Today the property encompasses eight thousand acres of forested terrain in the mountains of western North Carolina and attracts over one million visitors each year.

Because the house is so sizeable, many unusually large suites of furniture were purchased or produced to furnish it. One such is a suite of Italian Baroque revival style upholstered furniture, composed of 12 armchairs and two settees. The pieces are heavily carved in the manner of Italian sculptor Andrea Brustolon, and likely date to the nineteenth century. In the 1970s, eight of the chairs and one settee from this suite were reupholstered using modern materials and placed in the newly-finished Music Room. The remaining four chairs and settee remained in storage, upholstered in gauffraged wool plush.

At the beginning of this project, there were many questions: Was the large suite purchased new for Biltmore? Where in the house was it originally used? Is there any evidence of other upholstery treatments? The suite was also studied to determine if all of the pieces were made together; while clearly a matched set, variations in carving can be seen among the group.

Ultimately, six chairs and one settee were treated for reinstallation in the second floor living hall. This paper will present the research findings and the treatment of the furniture using minimally-intrusive upholstery techniques and the new reproduction gauffraged wool plush and trim.

avatar for Genevieve Bieniosek-[PA]

Genevieve Bieniosek-[PA]

Furniture Conservator, Biltmore Estate
Genevieve Bieniosek is a furniture conservator at Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina. She is also interested in historic upholstery techniques and conservation. Genevieve graduated from Buffalo State College in 2013 with a specialization in conservation of furniture and wooden... Read More →

Saturday June 1, 2013 10:45am - 11:15am EDT
JW Marriott White River Ballroom C-D 10 S West St Indianapolis, IN 46204

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