The conservation plan for Acanthes will be based on the results of the preliminary investigations. The necessary consolidation of the complex, multilayered structure of the work represents a great challenge. The gouache pigments, papers, adhesives, and textiles are each subject to specific natural aging processes, which are accelerated by fluctuating humidity and temperature. Certain changes have already become visible. Due to strong tensions between paper and canvas, for example, rents in the paper support have occurred, and the different layers have separated, resulting in cavities. The unprotected edges of the composition show cracks, wrinkles and spots. Wherever necessary, careful conservation measures will be undertaken in accordance with the latest ethical and scientific insights.
A key aspect of the project is the development and implementation of an adequate protection from the effects of light. Discoloration of papers and gouache pigments is lastingly detrimental to the visual impression of a work of art. A browning of the paper in Acanthes is already evident at this point, and a fading of colors has been observed in comparable works. A color assessment will serve to record the work’s present state and monitor future changes. A type of glass specially designed for light protection should help prevent further discoloration.
The second-largest work in the collection, the dimensions of Acanthes and its framed weight of over 200 kg represent a special challenge. These facts will have a considerable influence on the entire conservation process and must also be taken into account when the work is properly reframed and presented in future exhibitions.