Conservation Solutions, Inc: Art + Architecture + Artifacts

Marble Urn Fountain Conservation

Site
Kykuit, Tarrytown, New York

The Marble Urn Fountain is located at Kykuit, the John D. Rockefeller Estate in New York. The fountain consists of a marble vase; four heads decorate the neck of the urn. The urn rests on a square plinth and pedestal, both of cast stone. Water emerges from copper spouts in the mouths of the marble heads, as well as from the mouths of four fish-like creatures. The surface of the marble had become eroded and several breaks with failing repairs were noted. Heavy iron stains and dark biological staining marked the surface.

Conservation Solutions, Inc. (CSI) was contracted to treat the urn; tests of each recommended procedure were performed and approved prior to treatment.

The fountain was cleaned with a solution of hot water and detergent. Iron stains were reduced using a paste in water and gently scrubbed with nylon bristle brushes. Dark stains in crevices were reduced using a marble and limestone cleaner. Dental tools were used to remove debris from fissures and hairline cracks, which were then filled with a lime-based injection grout. A detached fragment of the basin lip was readhered using a marble adhesive. One copper waterspout was replaced. To slow deposits of iron staining, the marble was waxed using a soft cloth and then buffed. CSI provided recommendations for maintenance, including water treatment and yearly waxing.