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Technical Case Study: The Music Room

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History

The State Music Room is located on the piano nobile (‘noble floor’) of Stowe, between the Large Library and the Marble Saloon. It is lavishly decorated with panels of amusing and elegant grotesques and arabesques on the walls, marble columns and a fine chimney piece with carved decoration of musical instruments.

The plaster ceiling contains inset paintings, and in its centre is a circular painting after Guido Reni’s The Dance of the Hours. Probably designed by Italian artist Vincenzo Valdrè and finished in the early 1780s, the room was used as one of the schoolboy’s houserooms by the late 1920s. It has since reverted to its original purpose.

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Project overview

state-music-room-emblema-frame-molds-29-may-2012-largeConservation and repair work began on the Music Room in April 2012 and was completed in October 2012. The project involved the conservation of the Vincenzo Valdrè painted panels and ceiling, plaster and joinery repairs, repairs to the timber floorboards and the redecoration of the room. Conservation contractors worked from a tower scaffold on the ceiling to clean and repair the gilding and painted panels. Decorators then painted the ground colour of the walls in a pale grey-green scheme prepared by specialist historic paint consultant Patrick Baty.

During the project interesting discoveries have revealed past decorative schemes. In May 2012, contractors revealed an original decorative paint scheme of a flower motif and gilding on the shutters either side of the west sash window. Careful work on the shutters has revealed an illustration of a deity in the upper central panel.

These discoveries have presented the Team with a great opportunity for the future display and interpretation of the room. The existing ambience of the Music Room has been greatly enhanced by a meticulous and sympathetic restoration that has allowed this important and remarkably intact room to be carefully presented to visitors once again.