Dewitt Clinton Monument Conservation - Green-Wood Cemetery
Dewitt Clinton was the beloved 6th Governor of New York after the Revolutionary War. He oversaw the creation of the Erie Canal which maintained New York’s preeminence as a commercial and trading center as America surged towards the west in the early 19th Century. Nearly elected President twice, he remained renowned after his death in 1828. The newly founded Green-Wood Cemetery hoped to promote their planned acres by offering to move Clinton to a prominent spot within its rolling hills and erect a monument to the Governor. Henry Kirke Brown’s classically draped figure and base is one of the first large bronze sculptures cast in America. It was cast at the Ames armory foundry as no art foundries existed then.
The bronze had suffered extensive deterioration after more than 150 years of exposure. Deep pitting had developed on most surfaces, marring the delicate modeling and actually leaving holes through the hollow cast surfaces. The green and black streaking made it impossible to see the careful and detailed modeling on the reliefs and clothing.
Conservation Solutions, Inc. (CSI) conservators cleaned the bronze using pressurized water and detergents, patinated it to reduce streaking and integrate the colors, and applied an outdoor lacquer coating. This project was funded by Save Americas Sculptures and received their prize for best treatment.