https://www.themorgan.org/thaw-conserva ... -study-day
In an email to people who signed up, Frank Trujillo, Drue Heinz Book Conservator of the Thaw Conservation Center, writes:
I would add that the presenter himself or herself is shown in a little box in the upper right, so that most of the screen is taken up by the slide they are talking about.There are four videos uploaded to YouTube - three presentation sessions and one Q&A session. All the videos are accessible by clicking at the upper right hand side of the video player under "1/4" and choosing a session to follow.
For any follow up questions about the content of the presentations, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Session 1 starts out with an introductory presentation by Timothy Young, curator of the Cary Collection at Yale's Beinecke Library. He manages to cover the basics in a way that avoids controversial issues but emphasizes that the cards were used to play a game and even demonstrates what "trick-taking" is, using U.S. Games' reproduction deck of the Cary-Yale. Since the Fool is one of the main cards visible, he explains that a modern artist did the cards usually found in tarot decks but missing in the surviving Yale cards. In describing the game, he includes the detail that the number cards are Ace high in two suits and Ten high in the two other suits. He calls them the "red" and "black" suits, respectively. In fact, as I recall, these terms don't apply to Tarot decks with Italian suits; the actual terms are "round" (Coins and Cups) and "long" (Swords and Batons).
Then there is a nice presentation on the fashions present in the cards, most of which the presenter thinks people really wore. Hemlines were going up, at least for men, he observes, so higher for young men, lower for old.
The next two presentations in session 1 are in Italian, with no subtitles. Presumably if you e-mail the Morgan, they can send you the translations, so you can follow along. I know that they sent them out, to those of us who signed up, in an email before the original presentations.
Session Two is mostly a blur for me. It focuses on the types of photography they used, with all sorts of examples using the cards as their objects. Essentially, different elements show up differently under different light, including what is underneath the surface. Somewhere in this session they point out that the Brera-Brambilla's 3 of Swords uses different pigments than the rest of the Brera number cards, even though it looks the same.
Session Three starts with a talk on where, how, and (a little) when 15th-century painters got their dyes and pigments.
The second and third parts of session 3 were for me the highlight of the day. The second part was on what the photography, etc., tells us about the three decks, which they said they would refer to by their place of collection. First was the "Yale cards," which they also called the Modrone and never the Cary-Yale. Second was the deck they referred to as the Morgan cards and the Carrera cards, which they also called the Colleoni and sometimes Visconti-Sforza, but never PMB. PMB was a term some presenters did not even know; in the question period, Thierry Depaulis had to explain what "PMB" stood for. The third deck they called the Brera; we know it as the Brera-Brambilla. I mention the terminology because the presentation went fast and switched often between decks, using terms that are not second nature to many of us, especially "Carrera" for the cards in Bergamo. The presentation threw out so much at us that I was very glad I was seeing it on YouTube, so I could go back and hear parts of it again.
For this second part of session 3, three presenters took turns. It starts at 27 minutes 30 seconds in. First was the paper used: I had not known that the CY had a watermark, visible because the backs aren't painted. The watermark, of a dragon or basilisk, is one used between 1437 and 1442 and found in depositories, except for 2 cases, all within 250 miles of Milan. The paper sheets were originally probably big enough to divide it into 6 cards, back or front (backs a little larger, because they fold over onto the front). This does not apply to the other two decks.
Then came the part on what the imaging techniques reveal. Infrared reveals a point in the middle of the coins on the King of Coins, showing that the coins there were made with a compass. The imaging reveals the underdrawing, by what elements show up in the image. For example in the PMB Judgment card, the left-hand trumpet came down at a different angle in the underdrawing, changed in the final. At 49 minutes into session 3 comes the part about the gilding, and how the silver mixed in with the gold is what darkened and thereby turned the gilding in the PMB trumps and court cards brown. That isn't true in the CY, BB, and (most interestingly) the PMB number cards, which use pure gold, as she explains at 52 minutes.
A little over a minute later, Thierry takes over, for the third part of session 3, talking about the 85 PMB copies or semi-copies, done at various times, although little scientific analysis has been done on them, except for the Rosenthal, done with pigments made after 1885. It was nice seeing the copies, mostly in color. I had forgotten that Temperance was one of them (of the copies, not the Rosenthal). Lots of nice information about the Rosenthal, which surfaced in 2016 (except for the Emperor), starting at 1 hr and 4 minutes and going for 8 minutes. It was unclear to Thierry whether the Rosenthal should be considered forgeries, since it is unknown how they were presented originally.
Then at 1 hr 12 min. comes the section on punching, ornamenting, and glazing, by the same three as before. It also covered "restoration" overpainting. Mostly there were touchups here and there. However the coat of "Father Time" has been overpainted. I would wonder if the Popess is another example, but they didn't mention it.
Session 4 is the question and answer part. Iolon's question about the gold in the number cards was first, using the strange word "PMB"; I suspect that what he was asking got lost somewhere, or else he was just asking the presenter to reconfirm what she had said in the main talk, which she did.
I expect that I have missed reporting much of interest to us. Feel free to make additions or corrections to what I have written.