A Portrait of Enriqueta Rylands

Enriqueta Augustina Rylands by John Cassidy.
Enriqueta Augustina Rylands by John Cassidy.

Elaine Sheldon of The Collection Care Team writes:

The library’s portrait sculpture of Enriqueta Augustina Rylands has been cleaned by the Library’s Collection Care team.

The sculpture is signed John Cassidy 1905. The artist John Cassidy was born in Ireland in 1860. Cassidy studied at Manchester School of Art from 1883 and spent most of his life living and working in the city. The bronze portrait of Enriqueta was commissioned by supporters of the John Rylands Library and is a small version of the larger Saravezza marble sculpture which can be seen in the library’s historic reading room.

The bronze sculpture of Enriqueta has been on open display on the fourth floor of the library for a number of years and during this time the piece had accumulated surface dirt and dust.

Advice on how best to clean and protect the sculpture was sought from a specialist conservator based at Manchester Museum. Firstly the surface dirt was cleaned away using a brush and a museum vac. A bamboo tool was then used to carefully remove deposits of old wax from areas where it had built up. The bronze casting process allows for fine detail to be picked up by the bronze from the mould in which it has been cast. These areas of fine detail such as the intricate lace collar were partly disguised by old wax.

Enriqueta Augustina Rylands & Elaine
Enriqueta Augustina Rylands & Elaine.

After cleaning a light coat of Cosmoloidwax was applied to the surface, removing any excess wax before it solidified. Once dry the wax was gently buffed with a soft cloth to reduce the matt look. Bronze is a copper alloy and a durable material; the wax will help protect its surface allowing the sculpture to continue to be enjoyed on open display.

Mrs Rylands is now on display and welcoming visitors to the library in the foyer opposite the Reception Desk.

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