Contributions to the 5th AICCM Book, Paper and Photographic Materials Symposium. Editors: Prue McKay and Alana Treasure. Canberra, ACT: AICCM (Inc.), 2008.
In the early years of the 20th century, Russia was in a state of extraordinary intellectual and cultural upheaval. The art produced during the period is a reflection of this turmoil. The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) owns a collection of 167 Russian satirical illustrated magazines, purchased in 1981. The collection is extremely rare and valuable. The works are carried out in a range of printing media, line block, lithography, wood engraving and letter press. The magazines date from between 1905 and 1907 and were produced when censorship regulations were relaxed after the first revolution in 1905. They oppose and vilify the prevailing authorities. In 1907 there was a strong Tsarist government repression in reaction to the revolt, during which more liberal censorship disappeared and political comment was forbidden. The magazines which were, anyway, ephemeral were actively destroyed; pulped or recycled in response to a lack of basic materials or as an effort by people to rid themselves of incriminating subversive material, making this collection extremely rare and valuable. Private conservation company Art & Archival was engaged to work in collaboration with NGA Conservation staff to examine, document, analyse, and treat the collection. This presentation will follow the course of the work done over a period of six months looking at the analysis of the paper support using microscopic and dye tests to identify the paper fibre and process; identification of pigment samples; identification of printing process used throughout and lastly the treatments undertaken.