Statue of Sarah Siddons, Paddington Green

Cleaning, Conservation & Repair

In 2019, LSC undertook the cleaning, conservation and repair of the Statue to Sarah Siddons, located in Paddington Green.

The statue of Sarah Siddons (1755 – 1831) as a tragic muse by Leon-Joseph Chavailliaud was unveiled by Sir Henry Irving in 1897. Mrs Siddons, a famous actress, lived at Westbourne Green from 1805 to 1817 and is buried in St Mary’s Churchyard. There is a dagger in her hand, as Lady Macbeth was her most famous role. A mask of tragedy is seen under her chair.

The monument was cleared of all vegetation and build-up of organic matter. All of the stonework was carefully cleaned by hand. The entire monument was then cleaned with the DOFF system, operating at high temperature and reduced pressure to ensure a sensitive clean of the fabric, and retention of the historic patina.

The heavy build-up of carbon staining and accumulations of sulphate in the undercut areas required additional sympathetic cleaning methods. The use of poultice allowed for localised areas of the marble figure to be chemically cleaned in an effective, targeted and controlled manner.

All of the historic resin repairs were carefully removed by hand. The elements to be replaced with new carved marble indents were checked over for stability and any latent damage and marked up. The sections to be replaced with stone were the corona; left and right brow; nose; top lip; section of forearm; blade and outside hilt of the dagger; and twist of hair to the mask of tragedy.

Using historic records, archive photography and guidance from the original sculptural form all of the missing pieces were remodeled in situ using a fine white modeling wax. Clay squeeze moulds were taken of all cut outs, to provide further reference during carving off site.

Working off site, the wax models were copied into the marble. Taking measurements from the maquettes using callipers, a series of points were accurately transferred from the wax to the stone. Once the principal dimensions, lines and form were established, the remaining carving could be completed by eye and trimmed in on site. The new stone pieces were offered up and a dry fix carried out, before the visible carved surfaces were lightly sand blasted using a medium aggregate. This gave a textured and uniform finish that would refract rather than reflect the light.