Restoration of a Qing Dynasty Historic Palette in Chinese Official-Style Architectural Polychrome Painting with Formulations from Treatise Sanchu Huitong Huazuo Xianxing Zeli
Historic Preservation and Conservation
Decorative polychrome painting is one of the defining features of Chinese official-style architecture. Lack of understanding in and documentation of polychrome painting’s historic appearance often lead to inappropriate color restoration. Recently, there are attempts in restoring historic palettes based on field experience and historic craftmanship treatises, but few of them focus on Qing dynasty or compound colors, especially small colors. This thesis studies ten formulations of compound color in an 18th century Qing dynasty treatise Sanchu Hutong Huazuo Xianxing Zeli and recreates twenty mockups with techniques documented by traditional craftsmen and experienced conservators. Observation shows that the restored samples indicate that the appearance of these compound colors varies with the pigments and binder used, their proportion, particle size, and mixing. Quantitative color measurement and cross-sectional analysis could serve as a reference for future polychrome painting pigment studies.