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Maria João Petisca

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began January 2014

Maria João Petisca has been a furniture conservator since 1998 and has specialized in lacquered furniture since 2002. In 1997, she completed her BA in Conservation and Restoration at the Instituto Politécnico de Tomar (Polytechnic Institute of Tomar), and in 2001, earned her degree (Licenciatura) in Conservation and Restoration from the same institution. From 2002 to 2004 she collaborated on the project “Studies and Investigations in Movable and Integrated Heritage” at the former Instituto Português de Conservação e Restauro (Portuguese Institute of Conservation and Restoration), Lisboa. The project involved the study, treatment, and exhibition of a Chinese lacquer screen, and was published in Biombo Lacado. In 2009 she finished her MA in Decorative Art at the Universidade Católica Portuguesa (Portuguese Catholic University); her thesis was on Canton lacquer: a study of export Chinese lacquer screens from the 18th and 19th centuries. Also in 2009 she participated in the Urushi 2009-International Course on Conservation of Japanese Lacquer, held in Japan and co-organized by ICCROM and the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. From 2009 to 2011 she held a Lacquer Investigation Fellowship from the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (Foundation for Science and Technology) to develop a project for the study and conservation of Chinese export lacquerware at the Conservation Department of the Instituto dos Museus e da Conservação (Institute of Museums and Conservation), Lisboa. From 2011 to 2013 she worked for the Preservation Society of Newport County as an Assistant Conservator, treating Chinese lacquer panels from the Elms mansion, Newport, RI.

João passed her exams in May 2015, and her proposal presentation in February 2016, and is now working on her dissertation. Her dissertation committee members are Vimalin Rujivacharakul (chair, UD ARTH), Stephanie Auffret (UD/Winterthur), Catherine Matsen (UD/Winterthur), Karina Corrigan (Peabody Essex Museum), and Dr. Christiaan J. A. Jörg (professor emeritus, Leiden University). João was recently awarded the Francis E. Malamy Fellowship to conduct research at the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts and a CMCS Graduate Research Travel Fund for a research trip to England (London & Brighton)​.

TOPIC: Investigations into Chinese Export Lacquerware: Black and Gold, 1700-1850

João's research aims to characterize Chinese export lacquer production from 1700 to 1850. The group of objects to be studied are pieces coated with black lacquer decorated with gold and with manufacture attributed to South China, namely the area of Guangzhou. Associations of the objects with this city and surrounding areas in South China will be investigated as well as evidence of provenance. Manufacturing techniques as well as identification of materials applied on the objects will be used to further characterize the production of export lacquer from the workshops of that region. Archival research will focus and complement the analytical results aiming to understand the trade of Chinese export lacquer imported to Europe and North America during the referred period. Materials used on the manufacture of the pieces as well as their stylistic features will be investigated in order to further explore existing differences in commissioned pieces and more ubiquitous objects.​

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Maria João Petisca
  • The Department of Art Conservation
  • 303 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-3489
  • art-conservation@udel.edu