Linen Backing and Restoration of an 1894 Poster with art by Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923)

This poster, designed by Theophile Alexander Steinlen and printed in the 1890s, was in very poor "broken up" condition. As luck would have it the tears were in the folio folds mostly, which gave us a chance to mount it archivally on acid free paper and canvas. Once put together on this archival backing we were able to "piece in" missing paper using authentic old paper, and retouch color with water based color.

Title: Lait pur Sterilise. Printed by: Imp. Charles Verneau, Paris. This mangled poster, with rips and splits along the folio folds, was printed in 1894. You can see the condition.
I began by preparing a stretcher screen with acid free paper and canvas, and then applied each piece of the poster starting with the upper-right corner sections.
As I laid each piece of the poster down (using pH balanced paste) I had to be mindful of their position so that they would continue to match as I went along. Any slight misalignment in the beginning would become amplified as the work progressed.
After 5 hours of painstaiking work, I saw that the poster was coming together. I was pleased with the alignment of the sections, even though my back was killing me.
I let it dry for several days on the strecher where the canvas became taught and flat.
My assistant and I then proceeded with the task of replacing the missing paper with actual old poster paper made in the 1890s.
Using scraps of authentic vintage 1890s paper, matched to the poster's own paper, we trace the areas needing fill, and trace/cut out matching shapes.
We are more concerned with the paper's age and weight than we are color when piecing in.
Once the paper is in place and flattened flush to the original surface, we can begin to adjust the color.
Once all the pieces are in we start a more serious effort at matching colors.
After matching and blending the white paper we get into the coloured areas.
We utilize archival watercolor pigments both wet and dry.
Matching all the pieces, colors and lettering can take several days for a poster in this condition. Always have a good idea of value and/or rarity before investing in such a project. (But remember that sometimes you can't put a price on love!)
..About the Poster (Ref PAI XXXI) "Nowhere does Steinlen's humanity shine with a greater glow than 'Lait pur Sterilise', a poster for a milk distributor. His daughter Colette is...the subject...she carefully tastes the milk to make sure it isn't too hot for them."
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