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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Wall painting from the ceiling of a tomb: young shepherd wearing an ivy-wreath and cloak, leaning against a tree, holding a crook and a bunch of grapes; on the right is a draped girl seated on a stool covered with drapery, holding a staff.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 2ndC-3rdC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 65 centimetres
    • Length: 85 centimetres
  • Bibliography

    • Painting 72.b bibliographic details
  • Conservation

    See treatments 

    Treatment date

    19 February 2010

    Treatment proposal

    light clean, consolidate cracks, fill missing areas, consolidate flaking wax, support, fix flaking paper


    Since their original removal the wall paintings have undergone massive restorations. The initial intervention was the remounting and flattening of the wall paintings onto canvas and stretching them on a wooden frame. By flattening the wall painting, which was originally on a curved ceiling, large cracks formed horizontally and diagonally across the painting. Paper adhesive strip had been used around the edges of the front of the painting, and down the sides of the frame. This has been painted, mostly black.

    Theobject was inside a glazed box. The object is very dirty. The painting is still mounted on a canvas with a wooden frame support. The plastering is about 1 cm thick. The painting has been heavily restored in the past, painted over and filled, some of the fills are made of wax. The surface has numerous cracks from the flattening and areas of loose material. The surface of the painting is not flat but very irregular. The colours of the fills from the old restoration are dark and distracting.

    Hinks, R.P., 1933. Catalogue of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Paintings and Mosaics at The British Museum. London: BM. lists the restorations carried out whilst in the care of its last owner before coming to the museum. This includes removing "bad modern over painting" and resoring using water colours and covering in a wax varnish. Previous restorations clearly include oil paints and pigmented wax fills as well as the described water-colours and plaster fills.

    It is definite that the right corner of the wall painting is a reconstruction.

    Treatment details

    The object was taken out of the glazed box.

    First of all a support was made out of 2 layers, one sheets of Plastazote (polyethylene) and one polyester wadding layer, these were placed in-between the wooden frame in order to buffer vibrations especially also during the treatments which could cause further damage to the wall painting.

    The painting was cleaned very gently with Smoke Sponge(a vulcanised natural rubber) to avoid damaging loose areas.

    It was decided to keep the consolidation to a minimum as the addition of another material may complicate further problems as well as to conserve all of the existing material.

    Therefore only the cracks in the plaster, and the main areas of flaking paint were consolidated.

    Only the cracks in the plaster, and the main areas of flaking areas of paint were consolidated with Primal B60A, applied with micropipette. *IMS* was applied with micropipettes in these areas without any wax before the Primal B60A. The IMS works as a capillary to draw the Primal inside the cracks, and it also helps to decrease the gloss of the Primal. The large cracks were consolidated using a stronger solution of between 10 - 30% where necessary.

    The main areas of paint flaking were old restorations, where a wax layer is above a plaster fill. These areas were consolidated with 100% Primal B60A and a heating spatula (around 40-60°C).

    Needed areas were filled with a mix of Microballons (silica or phenolic resin) and 10-15% Paraloid B72 (ethyl methacrylate copolymer) in a 70:30 solution Acetone (propan-1-one/dimethyl ketone)/ IMS Industrial methylated spirits (ethanol,methanol). The fills were toned in using Rowney's Cryla colours (acrylic).

    All areas of treatment were mapped onto a metigoMap3.0 file and saved as a image and put on to DA.

    In compliance with the previously restored wall paintings of the same collection a mount was made to handle and store the object.

    The wooden frame was screwed on to a ridgid backing board, using screw holes from previous fixings. The board was a product called Wedi Tilebacker, which has a blue Styrofoam™ core and both sides are coated with a polymer-modified cement coating and reinforced with glass fibre. This material as well as the polyester wadding passed all Oddy tests.

    A framing edge of acid free card and thin plasterzote sheets were built up around the object and held in place with small steel brackets adhered with polyester resin.

    The object is in stable condition.

    About these records 

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Greek & Roman Antiquities

  • Registration number



If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: collectiondatabase@britishmuseum.org 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: GAA42920

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