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Jason Wierzbicki

1898_117 Sample 14 VIS 10 obj.jpg

Cross-section photomicrograph of column capital's paint history.

Column Capital


Accession #: 1898-117
Date: c. 1795
Owner: PMA
Artist: Unknown
Materials: Wood (mahogany, tulip poplar); paint
Dimensions: 17 3/8” × 21 7/8” × 21 7/8” inches (43.9 × 55.5 × 55.5 cm)

This Corinthian column capital was salvaged by architect Thomas H. Marshall from the interior of the First Bank of the United States in Philadelphia (built c. 1795) during the 1890s prior to a major renovation that took place in 1900. It is thought to be the only remaining decoration from the bank’s original banking room. The wooden column capital is carved with acanthus leaves and scrolls and has a curved upper moulding with flower centers. The capital has multiple generations of white paint. 

The capital has sustained multiple breaks and losses over its history and has undergone at least one major restoration campaign, in 1986–87. No known photographic documentation survives from the time of its salvage or from the time of its accession into PMA's collection. In 1993, a painted mahogany fragment closely resembling the acanthus leaf carving on the column was discovered in museum storage by Senior Conservator of Furniture, Behrooz Salimnejad. The fragment appears to match a replaced part of one of the leaves on the capital’s PR side which was carved by conservator Hugh Glover in 1987.


This analysis uses cross-section microscopy to compare the finish histories of the found fragment, of the original material of the object, and of loss compensations on the object in order to clarify the fragment’s relationship to the object and to gain insight into the object’s restoration history. The analysis could also potentially inform future treatment.      

View Finish Analysis Report HERE

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