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Conservation: Playing Tipu’s Tiger

Nigel Bamforth, a Senior Conservator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, explores 'Tippoo's Tiger,' a unique artifact. The team takes wood samples and photographs to understand the object's original surfaces. They examine paint layers, over-painting, and possible modifications, aiming to reveal the object's original color scheme and design. Created by Smarthistory.

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Video transcript

I'm Nigel Bamforth and i'm the Senior Conservator in the Furniture and Wood Section at the Victoria and Albert Museum We work on a great many objects and 'Tippoo's Tiger' is one of the objects that we have the privilege to work on. The object has come into the storeroom for some analysis and whilst the object is here we are looking to take some wood samples and try and identify some of the original surfaces of the object. The state of the of the object as whole on the inside, we have been taking photographic records of the interior. So hopefully this process will give us a bit more insight into the original fabric of the object. What we are trying to achieve is to see what layers there are on the object and what the original colour scheme of the object was. In most Areas it’s very evident that you can see there is over-painting and there are hardly any areas that have not been over-painted. This is very Recognisable by the depth of the paint surfaces and the painting over the old glosses that can be seen around on the body and on the trousers of the object. Areas like the silver band here, this is raised and looks like a foil, this has been bent over it would be interesting to know whether this is something that was applied or whether this was original. It looks as though it has been applied I would have thought. And also the whole colour scheme for the body There have been numerous whisker that have been painted on it and these might be a romantic interpretation by a later person who did the restoration on it. Around his jaws the spots have been applied they are very basic spots that have been put on. For the paint analysis it requires: taking a small sample of the surfaces. What my colleague and I are looking at is removing areas from different parts of the body of both the tiger and the man. We are doing this with a scalpel and we will be embedding the fragments into resin like ice cubes and then these will be ground and will go to the science department for analysis.