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Conservation Treatment of the Boston College Meiji-Era Bronze Eagle

In 1954, Boston College received a significant donation: a monumental bronze eagle. The donor was a gardener who inherited the sculpture from Larz Anderson, an American diplomat who collected automobiles, art, and botanical specimens at his estate in Brookline, Massachusetts.  Initially embraced as the college's mascot, the dark bronze Japanese sculpture underwent gilding and was prominently displayed on campus as an American gilded sculpture. Decades later, it was re-identified as a Japanese Meiji era artwork and entrusted to us for conservation.

 

Upon thorough examination, including testing and metal analysis confirming its composition as the Japanese karakane alloy, we embarked on a meticulous conservation process. This involved delicately stripping away layers of gold and oil paint to reveal the original intricate casting and chasing techniques, as well as the distinctive shakudo method used for the eagle's eyes. The patina underwent careful repair using a cold, reversible hand-rubbed technique, followed by waxing and buffing to restore its luster.

 

After completing treatment, we located the eagle's original bronze base, which had been separated from the sculpture shortly after it was given to BC.  Following the same conservation protocol, we successfully reintegrated the base into the collection, ensuring its preservation for future generations.

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Boston College Meiji-Era Bronze Eagle

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