This year, he was introduced to 18th-century colonial America through treatment of a tall Queen-Anne-style walnut clock case dating from the 1750s. The case and the brass dial clock movement it houses were originally purchased by Joseph Pennock, who in 1738 also built Primitive Hall, the Pennock family’s ancestral home in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Although the cabinetmaker is unknown, the movement was made by early Wilmington, Delaware clock maker George Crow (working 1744-1762).
The case showed evidence of both its age and everyday usage as it descended through the family before being returned to Primitive Hall, including structural damage and disfiguring repairs. The miter joint of the sarcophagus top, for instance, was modified with crudely gouged-out excavations housing later finials, now removed. Some of the decorative veneers also were inconsistent with the case’s period style, and inside the hood several marks, such as “Front Face” and ”Right Face” on related panels, suggested that it has been taken apart and restored in the past.
Much of Yang’s treatment involved reversing poor repairs with treatments based on current conservation practices, such as the use of new glue blocks that allow movement of previously captive panels, a major cause of the splitting and separation is in the clock case. He also improved its appearance by creating new wood elements to fit as replacements for missing or poorly executed pieces, removing rusting iron nails, chemically decolorizing some of the black staining, and infillng and inpainting cracks and crevices. Once Yang completed the treatment, the clock was reinstalled at Primitive Hall. Meanwhile, he is looking ahead to his third-year internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and eventually returning home to China. Yang believes the valuable hands-on training and education in conservation science he is receiving at WUDPAC will prove essential as he both works as an art conservator and continues to study and document the ancient structures and material culture of China.
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