This object is an Italian giardiniera (a flower planter), of tin glazed earthenware with maiolica décor. The object is in the Akershus Castle collection and was acquired as a gift from the Thaulow sisters during the fin de siècle period. It has a rich figurative décor that was a common trait of the istoriato style of ceramics in Italy. The style stems from the late Renaissance and lasted up until the 1700s and is typically décors with narrative scenes of a mythological, religious, or historical nature.
Parts of the ceramics collection at Akershus Castle got severe damages during the second world war. I carried out a conservation treatment of this giardiniera during my studies at the University of Oslo. The object had both major structural and aesthetic issues, with several cracks going all the way through the ceramic body and severe material losses; parts of its top rim was missing and each of the four corner figures had lost their heads. Two of the heads were preserved separate from the object.
4: replication with silicone mould. 5: replication with dental wax.
6: retouching with airbrush.
The treatment firstly consisted of securing structural stability by consolidation of the larger splits across the object. To give the object a more complete appearance, the missing parts were reconstructed with hard plaster, by replication of the remaining heads and rim corners. Inspections under UV-light showed some interesting and probably quite old retouches to the décor that were considered historically significant and left untreated. The new reconstructions were retouched to a neutral undertone with airbrush application of diluted acrylic color.