This Parisian wood paneling from the 1750s, from the boudoir of Madame Dangé’s mansion on Place Vendôme, had a varied fate before it arrived at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in the late nineteenth century. The original delicate pink and green polychromy framing the scenes of the Fables was covered over in the nineteenth century when the mansion was assigned to the military governor of Paris; the partial gilding of the wood paneling changed its appearance radically. In order to show the two successive phases in the life of this paneling, which reflect a shift in taste and usage, two thirds of it were restored to the eighteenth-century state, and the final third to that of the nineteenth century. A three-minute film by Frédérique Cantu, illustrating the different stages in the restoration project, inspires a reflection on the evolution of taste by showing how an eighteenth-century decoration designed for a fashionable woman was transformed in the following century by a military authority. The partial uncovering of the original eighteenth-century polychromy also highlights the issues raised by a restoration of this kind, the scientific and deontological choices it entails, the advantages and limits of contemporary methods of investigation, and the techniques used to uncover the original painting and restore the elements that were reworked in the nineteenth century.

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